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Flower shop gives smiles 'to make people feel better'

DULUTH - Michael "M.J." Wiesenfeld, a shy, quiet 5-year-old, leaned to sniff the bright yellow and white daisies and pale yellow roses Penny Cogdill held out to him.

M.J. was one of the patients at Children's Healthcare Surgery Center on Tuesday who received the flowers, a Hershey's Kisses rabbit to cuddle - which he named Bobby - and a balloon tied to a red string. M.J. played with his balloon as he waited with his grandparents, Steve and Wilma Lawson of Norcross, before being taken in for surgery to have his tonsils and adenoids removed and tubes placed in his ears.

"There's nothing like having a balloon to play with prior to going in for an outpatient surgical procedure," said Katie Hart Smith, manager of community outreach in Gwinnett for Children's Healthcare.

About 30 other arrangements of daisies and roses tucked into bright yellow smiley-face mugs sat at a nurse's station waiting to be delivered to other patients, like 2-year-old Gabriel Morales, who was also waiting for surgery, along with the stuffed rabbits and helium-filled balloons. The gifts came courtesy of Huff's Flowers of Lawrenceville, which is participating in Teleflora's Make Someone Smile Week, an annual week-long charitable project in which Teleflora florists nationwide deliver more than 40,000 Be Happy Bouquets to hospital patients, children in foster care, nursing home residents and others.

"This is an important project to us," said Cogdill, the owner of Huff's. "We always like to get out and make (people) smile."

Cogdill and Huff's Flowers manager Carolyn Stewart will deliver another 90 arrangements Thursday to residents at Ashton Hall Nursing home in Lawrenceville.

"The whole thing is just to make people feel better who might not otherwise get flowers" Stewart said.

Huff's Flowers has participated in Make Someone Smile week three years running.