The COVID-19 pandemic did not stop hundreds of volunteers from preparing wreaths Saturday morning for Wreaths for Vets, the organization that organizes the annual holiday wreath laying at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery.
“We had thousands of brand new wreaths this year and some that we are recycling,” said Jean Shine, founder of Wreaths for Vets. “The brand new wreaths had a lot of fluffing to be done because they are packed tight. We try to recycle most of the wreaths and they are all locally donated to us.”
Shine said that there are over 11,000 gravesites at the cemetery, and they will add to that number.
“We also had custom- made wreaths for the organization,” she said. “They are making smaller wreaths for the columbarium, and they are absolutely amazing. People have driven hours to come help us and lots of people coming in so we can remember and honor our military and their families.”
Jeniffer McCauley, a volunteer from the Shoemaker High School Heart to Heart Living Club, said this is the organization’s third year volunteering.
“Our club encourages students to reach out to their community to show their support and to show that our school is involved in more than just our own school,” she said. “I told them I would be here to represent them. We always go and do all three of the events, which are this one, the placing (of the wreaths) and then picking them up in January.”
Katie Garner, a volunteer with Smile Doctors, said this is her second year volunteering.
“We have done this for a few years I believe,” she said. “It feels good to give back, and we try to give back to the community and try to get out there. It is really nice to be able to do things like this.”
The laying of the wreaths will take place Nov. 28 at 10 a.m. at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery, 11463 State Highway 195, Killeen.
Parking at the cemetery is limited. A park and ride program will be offered at Texas A&M University-Central Texas, 1001 Leadership Place. Volunteers can park in the parking lot and ride one of 10 buses to the cemetery.