Gilmer community seeks donations to lay 500 wreaths across veterans’ graves

This national event will coincide with thousands of other ceremonies across the nation on Dec. 17.
Sunset Memorial Park and Croley Funeral Home are partnering up with the rotary club of Gilmer to raise funds for Wreaths Across America.
Published: Nov. 25, 2022 at 6:32 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 25, 2022 at 11:08 PM CST
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Sunset Memorial Park and Croley Funeral Home are partnering up with the Rotary Club of Gilmer for the fifth year in a row in an effort to raise funds for Wreaths Across America.

Wreaths Across America is an initiative that began in the 1990s after the owner of a wreath company found himself with a surplus and wanted to do something good.

In 2005, a picture of wreaths laid in Arlington National Cemetery took off and turned December’s Wreaths Across America into what it is today.

"The owner of a Wreath company laid down wreaths across the cemetery"
"The owner of a Wreath company laid down wreaths across the cemetery"(Sariah Bonds)

The owner of Croley Funeral Home decided to participate in Wreaths Across America five years ago to honor fallen veterans.

“We call the name of the soldier who we are placing the wreath on to create a memory for ourselves and to make sure that they are never forgotten,” said Brandon Dodd, president of the Gilmer rotary club and an employee of Croly Funeral Home.

This national event will coincide with thousands of other ceremonies across the nation on Dec. 17.

“You can tell the grass has turned brown from the season to be laid with hundreds of evergreen wreaths. It really is a beautiful and remarkable scene,” said Dodd.

Dodd said the goal is to lay 500 wreaths.

Donations received by the rotary club and funeral home this year are only half of what was given in previous years.

“For various reasons, and we can certainly look at the economy and inflation, or whatever those reasons may be, support has been a little slower this year than normally at this time,” said Dodd.

Dodd said the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be tough for families who have lost loved ones, especially due to war.

“Setting this in between and that close to Christmas allows those families to feel the love of the community for their lost loved ones and those who have given their lives,” Dodd said.

The funeral home and rotary are a part of the “Do Good Twice Program,” where every $5 donated for a wreath is used to place flags alongside a veteran’s grave.

“We’d like to set the goal of $2,000 or $2,500 or how many that number is of veterans we have in the community, but certainly we are working to get there and growing it each year,” said Dodd.

The cost of each wreath is $15. The last day to sponsor a wreath is on Nov. 29.

The ceremony will take place Dec. 17 at 11 a.m. at Sunset Memorial Park in Upshur County.