Local volunteers raise funds for wreaths for veterans' graves

Wreaths Across America seeks local support Volunteers raise funds for ceremony at veterans' cemetery

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  • photo provided West Milford High School students Mathew Hoffman, left, and Evan LeMay have been raising money to buy wreaths for veterans' graves in Clove Cemetery in Wantage.

West Milford volunteers are working hard to ensure that all veterans laid to rest at Clove Cemetery, a designated veterans’ cemetery in nearby Wantage, are honored this December on National Wreaths Across America Day.

This year, the ceremony, held simultaneously across the country at more than 1,200 locations, will be on Saturday, Dec. 16. The goal: to place a live, balsam fir wreath at the headstone of every veteran buried there and spread patriotism and commemoration for the ultimate sacrifices they made for our country.

Volunteers hosted various fundraisers to sponsor 368 wreaths needed at Clove Cemetery. For every two-wreath sponsorship sold, three wreaths will be provided to Clove as part of a fundraising program developed by Wreaths Across America.

“Every donation and wreath sponsorship is a meaningful gift from an appreciative supporter who knows what it means to serve and sacrifice for the freedoms we all enjoy,” said Karen Worcester, executive director of Wreaths Across America, a nonprofit group. “We are so grateful to the community of West Milford for participating in our mission to Remember, Honor and Teach.”

This fundraiser was run by the West Milford Military Moms, a group founded a year ago as a support system for mothers whose children who are currently serving, have served, or are just starting the process of serving in the military.

According to a statement by the group: "As Military Mothers we can all understand the difficulties and stress that this brings to families. This organization sets out to help however needed on the home front. As a way to honor the courage of our children and those who were before them, West Milford Military Moms chose to participate and fundraise for Wreaths Across America."

Cynthia LeMay, whose oldest son, Donevan LeMay, is currently serving in the Army, said that volunteers had a short timeframe within which to organize this year's efforts.

Clove was already sponsored, she said, explaining that volunteers hope to be able to lay wreaths on veterans' graves in West Milford next year.

The program only applies to veterans who were killed in action and it takes time to locate each of their graves, she said.

"We plan to do it, just not this year," LeMay said.

Laura Hoffman, who is coordinating the effort with LeMay, has a son, Ryan, who in the ROTC at Boston University, contracted with the Army.

If fundraising efforts go well, volunteers may be able to supply 183 more for wreaths for Civil War graves.

Wreaths Across America, located in Maine, has its own evergreen farm. Once a year, it trims the trees and the branches are used to make the wreaths, LeMay said.

The wreaths can be dedicated in memory of a fallen soldier or in honor of someone currently serving in the military.

On Dec. 16, there will be speeches and a ceremony as the wreaths are laid on the graves.

In conjunction with the West Milford Military Moms, West Milford High School students Evan LeMay and Mathew Hoffman are raising funds with the support of Principal Paul Gorski.

They have collection jars in each classroom and the staff participated in a “donate for dress down” day. They also had a table set up at Parent/Teacher conferences at the High School. Evan, Mathew, and their families will be volunteering to help at the December ceremony.

"That's why I was so pleased to support it. Students come to us with a lot of ideas, but this case the young men had a clear plan to match their passion and purpose, Gorski said."

To make a donation through West Milford Military Moms:

1. Go to www.wreathsacrossamerica.org

2. Scroll down to the red DONATE button. Click on it.

3. A new box will come up, DO NOT click the red sponsor button, LOOK to the right, there are three options. Click on “Sponsor a wreath at my local cemetery."

4. Search for Clove Cemetery.

5. Look for map with a box that has Clove Cemetery information in it with a red VIEW button. Click the button.

6. A page will open where you will see another red DONATE button, DO NOT click it, scroll down a little. Look for DONATE THROUGH A GROUP. The second listed is WEST MILFORD MILITARY MOMS, CLICK on the VIEW button.

7. Another new page opens, click on the red DONATE button

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