A sure sign the holidays are over is when lights and other decorations come down.
The same can be said about the wreaths being retrieved at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery, 11463 State Highway 195 in Killeen, on Saturday at 10 a.m.
After a short ceremony, volunteers are needed to help collect more than 7,000 wreaths which were placed on veterans' graves after Thanksgiving. The wreaths will be placed on poles and loaded onto trucks, to be stored until needed again at the end of the year.
"It's a messy job," said Jean Shine, president of the Friends of the Central Texas State Cemetery. "The wreaths have been laid on the graves for six weeks."
For those who plan to volunteer, Shine recommends wearing work clothes, as well as gloves, hats and coats, since the weather is predicted to be near freezing temperatures Saturday morning.
"We really need to remind everyone to please continue to come out and take care of the cemetery even when the weather's bad," Shine said.
The Wreaths for Vets project began in 2006 when Shine decided all the graves should have wreaths.
The group holds fundraisers during the year that support storing the wreaths and purchasing new ones as the number of graves increases each year. For 2017, mini-wreaths were added that were placed on the columbariums where cremated remains are interred. No registration is necessary to participate in the wreath retrieval, and parking will be available at Texas A&M University-Central Texas, 1001 Leadership Place, Killeen. Buses will shuttle volunteers to and from the cemetery between 8 a.m. and noon.
Donations are also being taken for this year’s Wreaths for Vets. Checks can be made out to Wreaths for Vets and mailed to FCTVC, c/o Shine Team Realtors, 100 W. Central Texas Expressway, suite 302, Harker Heights, TX 76548, or donations can be made at www.wreathsforvets.org