VFW auxiliary supports Wreaths Across America

Alice Robinson, Auxiliary President of Frank L. Mitchell VFW Post 3335 holds two pages of Veterans Wreath [decorated by Spruce Mountain Elementary School students] on Nov. 8 while the election was being held at Spruce Mountain Elementary School in Livermore. Robinson is a resident of this city and has selected Wreaths Across America as her project while serving as president. I had provided Jay’s school with 30 copies of the coloring page, but 191 colorful crowns were collected each with a written thank you. Advertiser by Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls

JAY — Alice Robinson, auxiliary president of Frank L. Mitchell VFW Post 3335, has chosen Wreaths Across America as her project, with several things already accomplished.

Robinson provided Spruce Mountain Elementary School with 30 replicas of a veteran’s wreath that students could color and write a thank you note for a veteran. During an interview Nov. 8, Robinson said he collected 191 completed pages. That Thursday, Robinson planned to take the pages to the Togus VA Medical Center in Augusta to give to veterans there.

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

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• Their belief in a greater good

• Their love for each other

• His strength, work ethic and character

• His honesty and integrity

• His humility, selflessness and modesty

• Their ambitions and aspirations

• His optimism for America

• Your concern for the future

• His pride in his duties

• Their hopes and dreams that didn’t always come true, but that left them with no regrets

The evergreen trees in the crown represent longevity and endurance, the red ribbon great sacrifice, the purity and simplicity of the scent of the forest and the circular shape eternity.

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

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Worcester continued to donate wreaths each year for the cemetery. In 2005 a photo of the wreath-adorned and snow-covered gravestones circulated the Internet, bringing the project to national attention. Thousands of requests came in from those who wanted to continue the project in their states.

In 2006, the Patriot Guard Riders volunteered to escort the wreaths going to Arlington and began the annual Veterans Honor Parade that travels up the East Coast each December. In 2007, the Worcester family and others formed Wreaths Across America, a nonprofit organization with a mission to “Remember. Honor. Teach.”

“In 2010, people placed 220,000 wreaths at 545 locations,” Robinson said. “The placing of wreaths takes place annually on the second or third Saturday of December. This year, the annual parade from Harrington to Arlington National Cemetery will begin on December 17.”

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

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One crown can be purchased for $15, while two cost $30, with one free, Robinson noted. “We hope to make a lot more money to buy more crowns next year,” he said.

Robinson’s husband, son and grandson all served in the military. “I’m proud to be in the auxiliary and work to support veterans,” she added.

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