Saunders: A message of hope from Raleigh to Aurora

bsaunders@newsobserver.comAugust 8, 2012 

While many of us cursed what took place in the darkness of that Colorado movie theater on July 20, Reagan Reynolds lit a candle, one that may ultimately light — and lighten — the hearts of the survivors and the relatives of the 12 people killed.

She lit it with words — words that conveyed a depth of feeling rare in anyone — especially a 25-year-old recent college graduate trying to start a business.

Reynolds is owner of Glory Tree Flowers, a business she operates out of her Raleigh home that crafts handmade flowers to be worn in hair. She wrote a letter to Aurora city officials days after the shooting where “The Dark Knight Rises” was showing.

“I went and saw the movie a few days afterward with my husband and family. ... All of a sudden, I thought there was so much in that movie that related in some way” to the incident, she told me. “So I decided to write about it.”

Nothing unusual there, right? I mean, Bob Roth, an Aurora ward councilman, told me city officials have received cards and letters from well-wishers numbering “easily in the thousands.” What, then, I asked, was it about Reynolds’ missive that stood out from the others, that prompted Roth to write the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce to let it know what kind of business owners live in Raleigh.

A poignant note

In an email to Harvey Schmitt, Chamber president, Roth wrote “Shortly after the tragedy that hit our city July 20, I received what was by far one of the most touching notes, and it came from a Citizen of Raleigh. We have heard from around the nation since July 20, and even from all seven continents, but none was more poignant than the one from (Mrs.) Reagan Reynolds.

“I have subsequently found out that (Mrs.) Reynolds is a local business owner in your City and (she) has organized an effort to send a special gift to each family of the victims of this terrible shooting. I don’t know if (Mrs.) Reynolds’ business is a part of your Chamber, but I wanted to make an effort to see that (she) and (her) business get recognition for what they are doing.”

Roth told me that he plans to share the note with survivors and relatives. Good. I hope it touches them in the same place it obviously touched Roth — in the same place it touched me.

Funny thing is, Reynolds had no intention of it touching anyone. She said she didn’t plan to send it out when she started composing it in her mind in the theater. After her husband read it, he suggested she send it to the people of Aurora.

“I looked up the addresses of all of the city council members and sent it to them,” she said.

‘I want to provide hope’

Reynolds, a graduate of Wakefield High School and UNC-Wilmington, is organizing a drive to send packages to the families of those killed — packages containing gifts, handmade flowers and letters of love and encouragement.

“I think it would be an amazing experience if those families could open a box and feel the currents of love just rushing out,” she said. “After a tragedy, people need food, water. Sometimes people just need encouragement. ... I want to provide hope and let people know that we care for them as Americans.”

If you care, too, you can stop by Sola coffee lounge on Lead Mine Road on Sept. 8 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. to contribute and help with packages. she said. To read the letter that moved Councilman Roth, go to Reynolds’ blog at

She is already preparing to send boxes of encouragement to the survivors of the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting, the second massacre by a madman within three weeks. At this rate, we may soon need a scorecard to keep up with them.

Reynolds won’t. She’ll just need a pen, a flower and a heart filled with love for fellow human beings beset by tragedy. or 919-836-2811

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