Plants With a Purpose: Digging Deep for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation


Keep Calm and Fight On” says my nephew, Isaac, who was recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last fall.

Team Isaac
Team Isaac: If you would like to help out Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, click on the photo to learn more or join a JDRF Walk in your area.

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I was able to use the tent I used when I sold flowers at the Des Moines Farmers Market, and the chalkboard painted sign that my husband made for me to use to promote my old flower shop. I even had an open/closed sign to hang on my mailbox. All props that I had from owning a flower business nearly ten years ago. Good thing I never throw anything away!

Last week was the Juvenile Diabetes Research foundation walk and fundraiser for the Quad Cities Area.  My nephew had his own team, Team Isaac, and my family and I had planned to walk.  A few months ago, I registered, donated some money, and thought I was done, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do, well….more!

On a whim, I decided to set my fundraising goal to $1000.  A few clicks, and entries, and I was set.  There was nothing binding me to that goal, and I could have even lowered it, but something in me wanted to rise to the challenge and hit that goal.  My next thought was, “Oh crap!  What the heck was I thinking?”  How am I going to raise a thousand dollars?

One week to go before the deadline, and I was only at about 25% of my goal.  The weather was set to be perfect conditions for the week: cool, sunny, and dry.  The soil was moist, as it had rained quite a bit the weekend before.  The stars were aligning, and the timing was perfect for none other than, a plant sale!  I titled it, “Marie’s Dig for Diabetes”.


 I don’t have many things that other people want or really need, but one thing I do have, is a hunormous perennial garden.  I also have a love for photography, and have been taking pictures of my perennial flowers for years, so I was able to design a nice little catalog page that showed some of the items I was digging.

FB Jdrf digging for diabetes
This is the little catalog page I made in Photoshop to use for promoting my fundraiser on Facebook. I organized the photos by the month that they bloom. If the same plant appears under more than one month, that means it blooms for each of the months it’s listed under. All photos are copyright Marie Stephens, and taken from my garden.

In exchange for donations to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, I would dig up starts of any of the plants shown.  I had some starts pre-potted, using old cottage cheese and yogurt containers with holes drilled in the bottom for drainage.  I would also divide starts on the spot and place them in grocery bags.  With the help of my family, friends and neighbors, and even a few strangers, I was able to sell enough plants to meet my goal, just in the nick of time!

Eric and Anna sent me pictures of their north facing home where they wanted to re-do their flower beds.  I was able to draw the plants right onto the picture, and then email them a preview of what it could look like once it all grew in.
Eric and Anna sent me pictures of their north facing home where they wanted to re-do their flower beds. I was able to draw the plants right onto the picture, and then email them a preview of what it could look like once it all grew in.

I even did a little bit of landscape design for one couple using my son’s tablet and a paint program app that I have.

All in all, it was a great experience, and I hope all the folks who bought plants had fun too.  It was fun to socialize and know that my work was going to a great cause.  My buns and hips and back were killing me, but a little bit of muscle soreness pales in comparison to all the insulin shots and pokes my nephew has had to endure in just the last 6 months alone.  I would do this again in a heart beat.

It’s so easy to forget how easy it is to make a difference.  I am filled with gratitude to have had the opportunity to be reminded, just how easy it is!  If you have a talent, a skill, that you haven’t used in a while, get out there and use it!  Who knows how many people you could be helping.  And let me just say, it feels so awesome to help, and feel useful for a great cause!

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