As promised last month, I am providing information about Wreaths Across America. This is a tax-exempt corporation that is assisting local charitable organizations with a mechanism to fund their particular charitable activities. It December 1992, in Harrington, Maine, wreathmaker Morrill Worcester found himself with a surplus of 5,000 wreaths during the holiday season. Worcester saw the surplus as an opportunity to pay tribute to our country’s veterans, and with the help of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, arranged for the wreaths to be placed at Arlington National Cemetery. This annual tribute to our country’s veterans has continued ever since, touching the lives of millions of veterans’ families and volunteers and growing in scope through the years. In 2007, the Worcester family, along with veterans and volunteers, formed the non-profit organization Wreaths Across America to continue and expand their efforts at Arlington National Cemetery and to support those around the country who wished to do the same. Wreaths Across America’s mission is simple: Remember the fallen, Honor those that serve and Teach the next generation about the value of freedom. Morrill’s wife Karen has served as the organization’s volunteer executive director since the non-profit was created, and today oversees what has become a massive volunteer organization that continues to grow. In 2017 alone, Wreaths Across America and its national network of volunteers placed over 1.5 million veterans’ wreaths at 1,433 locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea and abroad. This year, National Wreaths Across America day will be held on Saturday, December 15, 2018.
Locally, a ceremony will begin at approximately 8:00 a.m. followed by the placement of wreaths at Valley of the Sun Cemetery & Mortuary located on Chandler Heights Road between Alma School and Arizona Avenue where 2700 local veterans are laid to rest. After the wreaths have been placed, we will have a brief ceremony where the five military services are honored by placement of individual wreaths by veterans of those services. This is open to anyone who would like to attend. In the past, participants have included volunteers from the Boy Scouts of America, PayPal, Elks Riders, American Legion, Navy Cub of Chandler and Korean War Veterans, Exchange Club of Chandler and BPOE Lodge #2429 of Chandler.
Last year, 1500 wreaths were placed, leaving 1200 without a veteran’s wreath. This year, our goal is to place at least 2700. With local corporations’ generosity, we are hoping to meet this goal and ensure no veteran is forgotten. Each handmade, fresh, live wreath costs $15 to sponsor and is made in the United States with Maine balsam. A portion of this sponsorship is returned to the community to assist us in providing services for our veterans. On behalf of the volunteers and military families looking to honor all the veterans laid to rest at Valley of the Sun Cemetery and the Wreaths Across America extended family, I thank you for your consideration of this patriotic cause. If you would like to sponsor a wreath, please contact Nancy Espy at 480-202-0181 or Roman Martin at 602-330-1906. We will also be at the Open House/Welcome Back events in Cottonwood Palo Verde and Sun Lakes Country Clubs on October 13 and October 20, respectively.