It’s not quite the holiday season yet, but a local nonprofit is already raising money to honor veterans with wreaths.
Friends of the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery will hold its annual Ride for the Wreaths on Saturday to raise money for the holiday tradition of laying wreaths on the more than 4,500 graves at the local cemetery the weekend after Thanksgiving.
Proceeds from the fundraiser help buy new wreaths and replace old ones. About 700 people are buried there each year, said Charles Walden, cemetery director.
“It’s a wonderful thing for the families,” he said. “I’m touched by how many people volunteer their time to come out and do it.”
Saturday’s motorcycle ride takes off at 10 a.m. from Horny Toad Harley-Davidson in Temple toward the cemetery in Killeen. Once there, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Don Felt, who served as Fort Hood’s senior noncommissioned officer from 2008 to 2010, will speak.
The ride will then return to the dealership in Temple for a barbecue lunch, music and giveaways.
“It’s not just the laying of the wreaths; it’s this weekend as well to raise money — it’s a feel-good event,” said Sonja Skinner, fundraiser chairperson.
A 20-year veteran of the Navy, Skinner said honoring veterans is dear to her heart.
“I believe in veterans’ causes and I just think that ... the highest calling to give is to serve our country. Those are the people we need to take care of,” she said.
Last year about 150 riders participated, but Skinner said a bike isn’t necessary to get involved.
“Everyone is welcome, not just motorcycles, but cars as well,” she said.
Walden said the volunteer work is greatly appreciated.
“It’s hard to put into words because they do everything they possibly can to help these families,” Walden said.