Megan Dunn, Sonja Zupanec and Sue Dunn (from left) created floral headpieces as part of a fundraiser for the People for a Healthy Community on Gabriola Society food bank. (Photo courtesy Jeanette Martin)

Megan Dunn, Sonja Zupanec and Sue Dunn (from left) created floral headpieces as part of a fundraiser for the People for a Healthy Community on Gabriola Society food bank. (Photo courtesy Jeanette Martin)

Gabriolans support island food bank with floral hat fundraiser

Gabriola Flower Heads aim to raise $4,000 for those in need

Gabriola Island’s food bank is getting a financial boost thanks to a quartet of islanders and some fancy floral headgear.

Last week flower farmer Sonja Zupanec, horticulturalist aunt-niece duo Sue and Megan Dunn and photographer Jeanette Martin launched their Gabriola Flower Heads fundraiser, sharing a photo album of people wearing handmade floral headpieces and encouraging donations to the People for a Healthy Community on Gabriola Society food bank.

“We were just all itching to do something creative and fun and light-hearted during this pandemic,” Zupanec said. “And so I came up with a way to utilize all our farm’s extra flowers at the end of the season and their talents to pull us together and pull off a fundraiser for our food bank.”

After posting the photos online it took only two days for Flower Heads reach their $2,020 target. The fundraiser has since been extended until the end of November and if $4,000 is raised the group will post some behind-the-scenes photos as well.

Zupanec said they were shocked at how quickly they were able to surpass their initial goal.

“We knew we were onto something because we loved doing it so we thought other people must also feel the same way, that you can’t not smile when you look at these portraits,” she said. “But we still were pretty floored at how generous and passionate other people are this time of year when we know people are struggling”

Zupanec said she makes flower crowns and halos for special events like weddings, but those models are usually more neutral and subdued since “you don’t want to take away from the bride.” This fundraiser, on the other hand, allowed her and the Dunns to indulge themselves and go “a little wild.” She said florists typically use a combination of branches, vines and wire to construct floral headgear and the Flower Heads used “everything you can imagine.”

“There’s duct tape, there’s wire, there’s twine, there’s needle and thread. Some of them are a lot more complicated and then some of them were really just a bouquet,” she said. “We just put together a hand-tied bouquet and literally balanced it on people’s heads.”

The people in the photos are all volunteers the quartet approached, including the food bank’s executive director and some other “higher profile” Gabriolans as well as some people who were just “in the neighbourhood” while the photo shoot was underway. There are also some animal portraits in the collection, with Zupanec noting that “it’s very hard to put flowers on a chicken.”

“All the animals wanted to eat or shake off the headpieces, so it was a lot of fun…” she said. “There were no animals harmed in the taking of those photos.”

For more information about the fundraiser and to donate, click here. The portraits can be viewed here.

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