They start as spindly greenish-brown sprouts in a Seattle nursery and end as flowering yellow bouquets that surprise office workers, municipal employees and hospital patients all over Orange County.
It's the 13th annual Daffodil Days, which send hundreds of volunteers running to every corner of the county delivering flowers that have raised $330,000 for the American Cancer Society. The money from the sale of daffodils is used to help the county's cancer patients with transportation, equipment and other needs.
It began early Monday morning, when refrigerated trucks delivered more than a quarter-million buds that were then sorted into bunches of 10, placed in small glass vases and rushed to delivery trucks donated by the United Parcel Service.
Margaret Edwards, a regional director for the American Cancer Society, said the daffodil drive raised only $8,000 its first year. Over its first 12 years, the society has raised $1.25 million from the drive in Orange County alone.
The bright yellow daffodils were chosen as the "Gift of Hope" flower because they are the first buds of spring and they reflect the up-and-down turmoil of cancer survivors, Edwards said.
"Daffodils come in this ugly brown bulb and spring into these beautiful hardy flowers," she said. "They go away and come back year after year."
Zyanya Lopez, a 6-year-old patient at Children's Hospital of Orange County who received a bunch Monday, said she thinks "daffodil" is a silly name, but she loves the way the flowers smell.
Another patient, Porscha Lang, happened to be wearing bright yellow pants Monday. The 9-month-old expressed her delight with a smile and a lunge at her hand-delivered bouquet.
The smiles of recipients were a reason UPS drivers David Johnson of Fountain Valley and Ariel Cardenas of Orange took a day off to be volunteer deliverers.
"I have a specific motivation for doing this," said Johnson, who lost his mother to breast cancer three years ago. "I would like to see this cancer brought under control. Seeing these children helps me to give back to other people."