VFW auxiliary supports Wreaths Across America

Alice Robinson, assistant chairman Frank L. Mitchell VFW Post 3335 holds up a two-page wreath [decorated by Spruce Mountain Elementary School students] on November 8th during the election at Spruce Mountain Elementary School in Livermore. Robinson lives in that town and chose Wreaths Across America as her project while she was chair. She gave 30 copies of the coloring page to the school in Jay but collected 191 colored wreaths with a thank you written on each one. Pam Harnden/The Learmore Falls Advertiser

JAY – Alice Robinson, Frank L. Mitchell VFW Post 3335 assistant chairman chose Wreaths Across America as her project, and some things have already been accomplished.

Robinson gave Spruce Mountain Elementary School 30 copies of a violin wreath that students could color and write a thank you note for a veteran on. During a Nov. 8 interview, Robinson said she collected 191 completed pages. That Thursday Robinson decided to take the pages to the Togus VA Medical Center in Augusta to give to the veterans there.

The veteran wreath used in the Wreaths Across America program is a symbol of honor, respect and victory, Robinson said. According to a fact sheet from Wreaths Across America that Robinson shared with the teachers and the Livermore Falls Advertiser, each veteran’s wreath consists of 10 balsam bouquets that represent the 10 special qualities that veterans embody:

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• Their belief in a greater good

• Their love for each other

• Their strength, work ethic, and character

• Their honesty and integrity

• Their honesty, selflessness and modesty

• Their ambitions and desires

• Their hope for America

• Their concern for the future

• Their pride in their duties

• Their hopes and dreams that did not always come true, but left them with no regrets

The evergreens in the wreath represent longevity and endurance, the wonderful red bow sacrifice, the purity and simplicity of the forest scent, and the circular shape of eternity.

Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, founded Wreaths Across America. In 1992 his company had a surplus of wreaths. Remembering a trip he made to Arlington Cemetery as a boy, with the help of Senator Olympia Snowe arrangements were made to place the wreaths in an older part of the cemetery where the number of visitors was decreasing.

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Worcester continued to donate wreaths to the cemetery every year. In 2005 a photograph of the wreath-decorated tombstones covered in snow was circulated on the internet, drawing national attention to the project. Thousands of applications poured in from those who wanted to continue the project in their state.

In 2006 the Patriot Guards successfully escorted the wreath to Arlington and the Veterans Honor Parade began which travels the east coast every December. In 2007 the Worcester family and others founded Wreaths Across America, a non-profit organization whose mission is “Remember. Honor. Teach.”

“In 2010, people laid 220,000 wreaths at 545 locations,” Robinson said. “Wreath-laying takes place on the second or third Saturday of December every year. This year the annual parade will begin from Harrington to Arlington National Cemetery on December 17th.”

Robinson said the auxiliary has raised $491 — from AMVETS, Otis Federal Credit Union, VFW, and others — that will buy 48 wreaths. “Of those, 24 will go to Arlington National Cemetery and 24 will go to our local cemeteries where there are 670 veteran graves.”

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One wreath can be purchased for $15 while two cost $30 and one was offered for free, Robinson noted. “We hope to make a lot more money to buy more wreaths next year,” she said.

Robinson’s husband, son and grandson were all in the army. “I’m proud to be in the auxiliary and working to support seniors,” she said.

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