Nathan Ira likes to present strangers with a single flower and a note that reads, “For whatever you are dealing with, you deserve this.”

The 23-year-old cook at a downtown restaurant and fine arts student at Montana State University has started a project called “You deserve a flower.”

“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’ve been, you’re dealing with something difficult,” Ira said. “It’s one of the undeniable truths: Everyone’s dealing with something.”

A flower might brighten your day.

On an overcast day last week, Ira walked Main Street with a backpack full of daisies.

As he walked, he looked for anyone – man or woman - he thought might appreciate his simple gesture.

“Sometimes you can tell by the look on their faces or the way they walk,” Ira said. “You can just tell they need a flower.”

He gave a daisy to Susan Helkenn. She smiled and admitted being tired after shopping with her 4-year-old daughter.

Ira also presented a daisy to Jordan Mantzey, a young man wearing a flat-brimmed hat. Mantzey didn’t seem to be having a bad day, but he took the flower and laughed.

“That’s what I love about this community,” he said.

Ira has distributed more than 100 flowers. The note lists his email address. People are encouraged to write him about what the flower meant to them. He posts the responses on his blog, youdeserveaflower.blogspot.com.

Ira hopes his idea will spread. Maybe, a network of donors, volunteers and flower shops could be set up where people buy flowers for strangers. That way, someone in Washington might be handed a flower with a card from someone in Florida.

And maybe, Ira said, a stranger will someday hand him a flower.

“That would be really incredible if it came full circle,” he said.

Amanda Ricker can be reached at aricker@dailychronicle.com or 582-2628.

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