As officials for Wreaths for Vets prepare for the annual wreath preparation and laying at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen, a need still looms large: a new trailer for storage and transport of the wreaths.
Jean Shine, founder of Wreaths for Vets, said the organization has searched for a used trailer to suit its needs for a year and is calling the situation “desperate.”
“We’ve been blessed with two trailers, but they are totally full,” Shine said Wednesday. “We are over 12,000 wreaths and we don’t have any more room.” One wreath is placed on each grave at the cemetery during the holiday season.
Shine said Towne Services in Killeen has helped the organization search for a used trailer, but to no avail.
Though she admitted that she does not know the estimated cost of a trailer and the labor to convert the trailer to its specifications, Shine said the cost is likely much more expensive than it was in the past.
“We need a specific kind of trailer because we weld in it and have racks for all of our wreaths to go on,” Shine said.
Shine also said the cost of everything else, such as new bows, has also gone up.
“We don’t even know how much money we need. We just know we need a lot,” Shine said.
Those wishing to donate to the cause for new bows or a new trailer can do so online at https://www.wreathsforvets.org/ or via mail to Wreaths for Vets, P.O. Box 2790, Harker Heights, TX, 76548.
Despite the desperate need for donations, Shine took the time to give a shout out to one of the volunteers who makes the small wreaths that go on a columbarium by hand — Patty Aquiningoc.
Preparations will take place at the Killeen Special Events Center, 3301 South W.S. Young Drive, at 10 a.m. and is open to whoever would like to volunteer. The wreaths have to be removed from storage, fluffed and prepared before being placed at the veterans cemetery in Killeen.
Shine urged those who have a folding, transportable table to bring it to the event. She said the Special Events Center likely will not have enough tables to accommodate all the volunteers that are expected to help.
The wreath laying ceremony will follow on Nov. 27 at 10 a.m. at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery, 11463 South Highway 195.
Shine emphasized that during the wreath laying on Nov. 27, family members of those buried at the cemetery will lay their wreaths first. She urged other volunteers to allow family members the opportunity to lay their wreaths before grabbing one.
Volunteers are also encouraged to utilize the park-and-ride service from Texas A&M University-Central Texas, 1001 Leadership Place, Killeen.
Bus service runs from 8 a.m. to noon with constant round trips to and from the cemetery.
At the ceremony, Maj. Gen. Steven Gilland, III Corps and Fort Hood deputy commander, will give the keynote address.
Rain, snow or sun, the wreath laying will take place, Shine said, and volunteers are needed at all events.