JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Wreaths Across America Jacksonville needs help paying tribute to local veterans and service members this holiday season. With just nine weeks to go before its November 30th cutoff deadline, the organization is short 6,000 wreaths.
If the difference is not made up, it could result in many graves at the Jacksonville National Cemetery not being adorned with a wreath at this year’s event. Kellina Featheringill is the group’s location coordinator.
“I think we’re probably farther behind than we have ever been in previous years,” Featheringill said.
The annual event at Jacksonville National Cemetery is regarded as one of the most moving and meaningful experiences in the city during the holidays. It brings people of all ages and all backgrounds. Featheringill says the group faced setbacks last year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic but now believes new problems have surfaced as a result.
“I feel like this year, there might even be more of struggles with families, with businesses suffering, with families losing family members,” Featheringill said. “I feel like that might be why people are not donating as readily this year.
Knowing some of her own loved ones are buried at the cemetery, Featheringill says this feels personal.
“The saying is that ‘No one truly dies until you never say their name again.’ That is such an important part of our mission,” Featheringill said. “Each year, we place the wreath, we say their name, and they’re not forgotten.”
That’s why she says time is of the essence. Furthermore, Featheringill says this event has a way of bringing people together and teaching the younger generations the importance of serving our country.
“Every American in some way, shape, or form knows, is related to, or has a family member who is a veteran,” Featheringill said. “And to know that there are people out there honoring their family members, it kind of just ties the community together.”
Honoring those who gave so much by making sure their memories are always kept alive.
“It’s our chance to do a little bit to live up to their legacy in honoring them and remembering them,” Featheringill said.
This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 18. The cutoff deadline to donate or sponsor a wreath is Nov. 30. Those interested in helping can go directly to the Wreaths Across America website.
Another option is to text “WREATH33″ to 20222. It works for any cell phone service provider and automatically sends a $15 donation that is charged to your phone bill.