New Patchogue business to host vigil next month in honor of young lives lost
As part of Don’t Toss the Bouquets Floral Preservation owner and Patchogue resident Christa Morris’ Angel Baby Program, she plans to host the “It Takes a Village” vigil this Dec. 14 in honor of all those who have lost children.
Morris, a Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce newcomer, purchased 134 Waverly Ave. in February of last year after starting her floral preservation business in 2015. She hopes to open her storefront this summer, though services are already available on her website: www.donttossthebouquet.com.
As an English professor at Farmingdale State College, she started the business as a hobby, first as a way to preserve her friends’ bouquets as a keepsake and later making shadow boxes and artistic displays of mementos from special occasions. Her husband, Rob Morris, also an English teacher, takes part in the business by building the boxes.
“My role has become to help build Christa’s dreams, whether that be building shadow box displays, constructing her storefront or assisting in the village vigil,” he said, happy to help his wife.
Soon after starting the business, Christa was often asked to preserve flowers from funerals; in 2016 she was asked to do those for a deceased child. Stricken by the heartbreaking story of a 16-month old who drowned, she decided to do more and created the Angel Baby Program, a free program dedicated to honoring babies and to give grieving parents something to treasure forever.
“It just rocked me to my core,” said the now-pregnant mother of two. “It’s a really sad time in their lives,” Christa added, hoping to offer some sort of peace and hope in a time of darkness.
“The Angel Baby Program gives the rest of the world a chance to see what a wonderful woman Christa is,” added her husband. “It has amazed me to see her turn something so difficult into something so beautiful. Every child who is a part of the program has truly become a part of our life and family.”
With that in mind, prior to the grand opening, Morris will be hosting her first-ever Angel Baby dinner at Mediterranean Manor on Dec. 14 for 64 families in her program. She also is planning to take it one step farther by hosting Patchogue’s first “It Takes a Village” vigil event on Main Street and throughout the village in honor of their lost loved ones.
Nicole Delfino, of Centereach — the recipient of Morris’s first floral preservation for a child and who basically inspired the idea for the program — will be attending. She cyber-met Christa after her daughter Kyleigh Hope Delfino passed away from a tragic drowning accident at 16 months old while at a family party in August 2016.
“Kyleigh was a happy, funny, adventurous little girl that could light up a room without even knowing it,” Delfino said; she explained that a friend of hers planned to preserve the flowers from the funeral with Christa, and later that year her sister created at shadow box with Christa as well.
“When creating this beautiful work of art, [Christa] truly captured everything ... from the ladybugs to the butterflies to the cross that was laid on [Kyleigh’s]chest in the casket, to the Mass cards and lastly the picture that created it all,” she explained of Christa’s passion and how it helped the healing process. “She truly gave me and my family something to treasure for the rest of our lives.”
“It Takes a Village” vigil
The vigil will take place on Saturday, Dec. 14 at 6 p.m. Those participating are asked to purchase a $15 light kit, which includes 10 battery-operated candles: nine with a name of one of the children who passed and one with a blank for participants to fill in.
The hope, Christa said, is to light Main Street so that when the families leave the dinner they can procession through Patchogue, which will be lit in honor of their loved ones. A caravan led by police or public safety will guide their vehicles throughout Main Street and the most lighted streets, she said.
“I would love to make this an annual tradition in Patchogue,” she said, already promoting it with local businesses and online. “Hopefully we can light up once a year as a nondenominational way to provide hope.”
Candle kits can be purchased at Christa’s website: www.donttossthebouquet.com/angel-baby. Residences are also encouraged to participate. n
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