Jerry’s Foods Offers Therapeutic Balloons in Edina

Jerry’s Foods stocks community with balloons in time of mourning.
Green balloons from Jerry's Foods honor a young boy's Irish heritage after his passing.

In January 2013, Jerry’s Food in Edina learned that members of the community wanted to display balloons in the streets and from mailboxes to honor a local 8-year-old boy who had died. The staff at Jerry’s Foods liked the idea and began selling balloons in order to make this idea a reality. In honor of the boy’s Irish heritage, green balloons were chosen. Paula Larson, who manages Jerry’s floral department, remembers that getting equipped to sell 1,500 green helium balloons within a day and a half was no small undertaking.

“I called my helium vendor right away and got the needed supplies, but it wasn’t enough,” Larson says. “So the owner [of the balloon company] delivered more supplies and even helped us blow them up.”

Even after the second delivery was exhausted, Larson and customer service manager Betsy Mueller were not about to hang a “sold out” sign. So they secured additional green balloons from the Family Dollar Store and borrowed helium tanks from Cub Foods—and even a couple tanks from two loyal customers. Larson, Mueller and a handful of store employees stayed up until 3 a.m., two nights in a row, to blow up balloons. 

Friends of the child’s family also pitched in by tying ribbons and handing out balloons until the green globes filled the ceiling. Those who didn’t know about the loss asked why so many balloons were being sold. Upon learning the answer, many ended up buying balloons to hang on their mailbox as a show of community support.

This act of kindness didn’t just happen once. Last September, when another young boy in Edina passed away, Jerry’s Foods honored the child in the same manner, but this time with orange balloons—the boys’ favorite color. Having learned the best way to blow up and sell the balloons, and knowing how many were needed, the community went to work, dedicating many hours and community support toward this project.

“While I remember a lot of folks thanking Jerry’s for the effort that we put forth, no one was really surprised that we undertook this project,” explains store manager Randy Drescher. “Jerry’s has always been a big part of the Edina community, and in the two years that I have worked here I have never known a kinder group of people.”

That all of Edina flooded with balloons on the day of each child’s funeral was not only touching, but therapeutic for the community. “I heard that one of the siblings of one of the children who passed away didn’t want to go to the funeral because he was so sad,” explains Mueller. “But when he got in the car and saw all of the balloons, it really made him feel better.”

Perhaps the most poignant moment from each of the funerals came at the end, when thousands of balloons were released into the sky. Balloons remind one of the joy of childhood. Watching a sea of balloons sail into the heavens amid the clouds provided a feeling of comfort alongside the grief.