The sweet aromas and awe-inspiring beauty start at the entrance. The strategically placed floral arrangements and decorations liven up the plain, white tent to create a more intimate, warm atmosphere for the ensuing holiday gala. These artistic, floral creations from the Rolling Hills Flower Mart welcome guests and keep them coming back.
Rolling Hills Flower Mart donates $60,000 to $75,000 of floral arrangements to the Torrance Memorial Medical Center
Holiday Festival each year. As owner Christine Gaudenti says, "We've obviously all had to go to the hospital. I'm giving to something that relates to the whole community. You can feel the hospital's appreciation to us, so it's easy to say yes to whatever they need."
Christine and her crew use the annual fundraiser as a learning opportunity. "I saw the hospital as a great way to perfect my craft. We go budget-less. We go over the top, and we get to use it as a learning tool," she explains. Far from just a creative outlet, the finished event brings Christine satisfaction knowing that she did good for her community. "I love the feeling when I see the room altogether and the reaction from the people," she sighs. "The hospital is generous to our community, and we should give back.
For the Gaudentis, the Holiday Festival is a family event. "We just make it family night out, because it's so rare that we can all get together like that, especially with all of the business at that time of year," she says. The madness of creating all the decorations coincides with the busy holiday season, so the whole family scrambles to help get everything done. The hospital even began providing the Gaudentis with volunteers to help set up the arrangements because of the magnanimity of their workload.
Truly a family business, her daughters Lindsey and Chelsea work in the store, and her sister Allison Stagnaro helps manufacture the flowers. Her son-in-law Jeff Hurst took over and elevated the event over the last five years. "My son-in-law has been incredibly instrumental in getting the flowers and manufacturing them for the event," Christine says gratefully. Robert Gaudenti, Lindsey and Chelsea's father, also helps out by doing a lot of handy work in preparation for the event. He helps with construction and setup beforehand.
Rolling Hills Flower Mart does whatever they can to make the event more inviting and more lucrative. According to Christine, they will do whatever it takes to "keep them [Torrance Memorial] selling out the event and keep the people coming." The luncheon centerpieces are raffled off, and all of the dinner's floral arrangements are swiped by lucky guests. "Any time you have an event, the flowers evoke the feeling of the environment. In some little way, I like to think that what I do brings loyalty to the event," Christine says. "Everybody wants to see what we're going to do next."
The Rolling Hills Flower Mart and Christine's family really evoke the spirit of the holiday season. "We don't know the other 600 people at the event necessarily, but it feels like a family or friend's event. Wouldn't we all go the extra mile for our friends and family?"
'Tis the season of giving indeed.