Volunteers needed for ‘Wreaths Across Bartholomew County’ event Saturday

COLUMBUS, Ind. — Volunteers are needed for this Saturday’s “Wreath Across Bartholomew County” event at Garland Brook Cemetery.

“Anyone interested in helping us distribute Christmas wreaths to veterans’ graves in Garland Brook Cemetery can just show up at the Garland Brook flag pole at noon on Saturday, said American Legion Post 24 Commander Al McKown. “The more volunteers we have, the faster we can get the job done and the everyone can go to the Legion for a free lunch of hot soups and sandwiches and get to know each other.”

Volunteers do not have to be members of the Legion to help place the wreaths or to participate in the luncheon.

Individuals or groups are welcome to participate. Garland Brook Cemetery is located at 501 N. Gladstone Ave. in Columbus.

This will be the eighth year for the Wreaths Across Bartholomew County event which is modeled after the nationwide “Wreaths Across America” program. The goal of both organizations is honor the graves of military veterans by decorating their graves during the holidays and following winter months. The national program organizes communities across the nation while Wreaths Across Bartholomew County is locally organized. The national Wreaths Across America program will take place two weeks after the local program.

“We wanted to keep Wreaths Across Bartholomew County local so we follow a separate time schedule and we use area merchants instead of sending everything to Washington D.C.,” explained Dwayne Bean, event organizer and member of the Sons of the American Legion at Post 24.

“We have ordered over 850 wreaths through Pumpkins and Posies who helps us store and deliver the wreaths. We buy the decorative bows and other supplies from several other local merchants. It is a community effort. Post 24 members work all year to raise funds to pay for 850 wreaths at a cost of around $13.50 for each wreath,” added Bean.

Volunteers at Saturdays event will be asked to help unpack each wreath, apply the red bows and stands and then distribute the wreaths to each veteran’s gravesite.

“We have something that everyone can do. If you don’t feel you can walk around the cemetery or carry the wreaths, will find something that suits you better. Last year, we had so many volunteers we were done in about an hour-and-a-half. That’s about our goal,” said Bean.

“I can’t remember why I volunteered the first time,” said non-veteran volunteer Kathleen Dickerson. “I think my friend Janie Hudson and I were just looking for something to do, but I remember we left with the feeling that we had done something really good that day and I plan to volunteer again this year.”

Wreaths are also available to decorate the graves of veterans buried in other cemeteries in the county.

“We only deliver wreaths in Garland Brook but we will provide a wreath for a veteran’s gravesite at another cemetery. Families can pick-up a wreath for their veteran’s grave site at the Garland Brook Cemetery flagpole beginning at noon while the event is underway on Saturday. The first wreath is free and a $13.50 donation is requested for any additional wreaths,” added Bean.

“I am not a veteran myself but I think it is very important to honor those who have protected this nation. I know I would not have the life I have now if it wasn’t for the men and women who have risked their lives to protect the freedoms and our way of life. That’s why I think this is worth doing” said Bean.