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National Garden Clubs Inc. gears up for spring Habitat for Humanity blitz

NGC welcomes volunteers, donations to help landscape new Habitat-built homes

ST. LOUIS (March 13, 2008) - Armed with garden trowels and native plants, bushes and trees, thousands of members of National Garden Clubs, Inc. – and its affiliates across the United States – are gearing up again this spring to help new Habitat for Humanity homeowners establish low-maintenance, environmentally friendly gardens. Not content with providing labor and expertise, the NGC also conducts fund-raising projects to garner necessary supplies and encourage additional volunteers.

It’s all part of the NGC’s “Open Your Heart and Hands” project, which was launched in 1999 as a partnership between National Garden Clubs, Inc. and Habitat for Humanity International. The project’s success has grown every year, with many NGC volunteers forging lasting friendships and support networks with the homeowners, says Barbara D. May, NGC president.

“Our work with Habitat for Humanity enables us to accomplish positive goals on so many levels,” May says. “We promote beautification and a love of gardening while helping new homeowners learn how to use low-maintenance native trees, shrubs and plants to benefit the environment and conserve resources.”

One of the major thrusts of the ongoing “Open Your Hearts and Hands” project is participation in the Habitat for Humanity International “Home Builders Blitz,” an accelerated building effort last held in 2006, and scheduled to take place again May 31- June 7, 2008. The blitz showcases professional homebuilders who volunteer their time to erect homes across the United States.

During the 2006 build, the NGC not only landscaped many of the 400 homes built in 40 states, but also raised funds for materials to create container gardens for each new owner, according to Jo Williams, NGC chairman for the Habitat for Humanity landscaping project. The NGC members’ efforts were augmented by the donation of more than 10,800 plants by Periwinkle and Bloom Co. This year, Perfectly Simple Giving has agreed to donate plants to the project.

In this year’s blitz, the NGC plans to landscape many of the 250 homes slated for construction. “The rewards for our efforts have been immeasurable,” says Williams. “But we can accomplish even more with additional support from organizations and individuals across the country. No donation of time or money is too small.”

Information about how to support the Habitat landscaping program is available on the NGC Web site at www.gardenclub.org.

“Habitat for Humanity greatly appreciates all that the National Garden Clubs Inc. does to help beautify the landscape of Habitat houses across the country,” says Jonathan Reckford, chief executive officer for Habitat for Humanity International. “Their efforts go a long way toward helping homeowner families turn their new houses into lasting homes.”

Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in 1976, Habitat has built more than 250,000 homes worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than one million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org.

National Garden Clubs, Inc.
National Garden Clubs Inc. is a not-for-profit organization. With more than 209,000 members and 6,300 member clubs across the U.S., the NGC is the largest volunteer organization of its type in the world. Founded in 1929, the NGC offers extensive educational programs and resources to promote gardening and environmental responsibility. The NGC is headquartered in St. Louis, Mo., adjacent to the world-famous Missouri Botanical Garden. Visit www.gardenclub.org.