The San Benito County Chamber of Commerce is heading a fundraiser for Wreaths Across America, along with local businesses, philanthropic organizations, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion, and individuals.
“Wreaths Across America has been going on for years and started at Arlington National Cemetery,” said Juli A. Vieira, president and CEO of the chamber. “We're trying to raise funds to put wreaths at the headstones of each of our local veterans.”
Vieira said she has not been able to determine how many veterans are buried in the three cemeteries in the county, but she believes the number is close to 900.
“We’ve registered the three cemeteries, but we’re focusing right now on Calvary Cemetery and once we get that one full then we can move on to the other two," she said. "We hope to do enough for all three of them, though.”
She said the wreath-laying ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. on Dec. 12.
“Anyone can donate toward the wreaths,” she said. “If they want to have a particular wreath to be placed on the headstone of a family member they have to be there. There are so many, especially if the grave is not in the veterans' area, we can’t guarantee that we’re going to be able to find it and we don’t have the manpower to search the entire cemetery, so a representative of the family must be there.”
Anyone interested in donating can go to the chamber website and pay with a credit card or come into the office in Hollister.
“We also have the applications on Facebook,” she said. “All donations will go toward purchasing wreaths for our local cemeteries only.”
The chamber is working with the two veterans’ organizations, VFW Post 9249 and American Legion Post 69 to place the wreaths.
“Our chamber members and ambassadors will also be helping,” Vieira said.
She said the chamber is trying to raise at least $13,500 to pay for 900 wreaths.
“We just started and we have about 100 wreaths donated,” she said. “Anyone can participate, service organizations, women’s groups and companies, such as Dickey’s Barbeque Pit, which is donating a percentage of proceeds. It started yesterday (9/15) and goes through tomorrow.”
Vieira said there are flyers at the chamber office that give details of the fundraiser, or people can go to the national (http://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/act-now/start-fundraising/) or chamber websites (http://sanbenitocountychamber.com/) websites.
“This is our first year to participate,” she said. “The chamber decided to take it on and we’re hoping it grows each year and we’ll be able to do all three cemeteries. We probably won’t be able to do all three this year, though.”
She said if people go on the national website they can see all the cemeteries that do this all over the country.
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