Wreaths Across America is seeking donations for the 2013 ceremony to be held at Sarasota National Cemetery on Dec. 14.
Wreaths Across America, a non-profit organization, began after Morrill Worcester, president of Worcester Wreath Company, based in Harrington, Maine, started this annual event in 1992 when he sent 5,000 wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery to honor our nation's fallen heroes.
Since the photos of wreaths on the graves at Arlington were shown on the Internet, the idea has grown to include veterans cemeteries across the country.
Because Worcester couldn't donate thousands of wreaths to each state, he decided to donate seven to each state - one for each branch of the military and one for POW/MIAs.
The official day of the ceremony is the second Saturday in December and this year it is on Dec. 14.
Sarasota National Cemetery is a 295-acre cemetery that opened in 2008 and had its first internment the following year.
Pine Island residents got involved in 2011 when VFW Auxiliary Treasurer Jill Davidson decided to start a collection for wreaths. In her first year she raised $1,725 in less than two weeks and was able to have 115 wreaths placed on graves at Sarasota.
A total of 1,979 wreaths were placed on grave sites Dec. 10, 2011, at the cemetery.
Since then the need for wreaths has grown. Internments have grown to more than 10 per day and more than 5,000 wreaths were needed last 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. 25, 2013
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.
New this year, you can purchase wreaths online with a credit card by going to: waa.convio.net/goto/flvfwa4353
Davidson said anyone is welcome to attend the ceremony at Sarasota National Cemetery.