The Wreaths Across America campaign has begun for the 2012 ceremony that will take place at the end of the year at the Sarasota National Cemetery.
Wreaths Across America, a non-profit organization, began after Morrill Worcester of the Worcester Wreath company donated 5,000 wreaths in 1992 to be laid on the stones at Arlington National Cemetery. After photographs were displayed of wreaths covering stones in snow on the Internet in 2005, the idea took off and the Wreaths Across America was formed.
Since Worcester could not donate thousands of wreaths to each state, he decided to donate seven wreaths to each to represent the branches of the military, along with POW/MIA. Since then, the ceremonies have taken place throughout the United States on the second Saturday in December.
Pine Island residents got involved in the cause last year thanks to Pine Island VFW Auxiliary Treasurer Jill Davidson. She collected $1,725 in less than two weeks from the community, which was enough money to put 115 wreaths on the fallen comrades' sites at Sarasota National Cemetery.
A total of 1,979 wreaths were placed on gravesites Dec. 10, 2011, at the cemetery.
The need of wreaths this year is expected to increase due to the construction that is taking place at the cemetery. Last year they had 4,100 gravesites at the Sarasota National Cemetery, which is expected to increase to 6,000 this year.
Davidson said the campaign is in full swing for those who wish to donate to the cause. Individuals can either purchase a wreath for $15 or they can donate whatever amount they choose.
The cut off date for donations is Nov. 21.
So far, Davidson said they are doing pretty well with collecting donations.
Those who wish to donate can call Davidson at home at 239-283-1826, cell phone at 239-671-8135 or by mailing a check to Wreaths Across America, P.O. Box 432, St. James City, Fl, 33956-0432. The check must be made to Wreaths Across America.
Davidson said she is involved in a program this year through the organization that provides her one free wreath for every two wreaths that are purchased.
"It's a three-for-two program," she said.
This year Davidson is the Wreaths Across America sponsor for Lee County.
The Wreaths Across America ceremony will take place on Dec. 15 at the Sarasota National Cemetery. Davidson said anyone is welcome to attend the ceremony.
"I have already been approached by a bicycle group that wants to go with us, too," she said.