Place a wreath – give to a good cause
If anyone has family members buried in Ripley County, they have probably heard of or seen signs explaining the Wreaths on Veterans graves during the holiday season.
This endeavor started in 2021 at Tanglewood Cemetery Association, outside of Versailles. While there, Owen Menchhofer, disposed of a wreath that “had seen better days.” Out of the wreath fell a slip of paper. Menchhofer still carries it in his wallet.
The verse on the tag “Remember those who have fallen; and, teach our children the value of freedom” affected Menchhofer so profoundly that he proposed the endeavor to the Cemetery. The Tanglewood Cemetery Association purchased wreaths to place on all the Veteran’s graves in their Cemetery in 2021.
2022 saw Menchhofer making the project a Ripley County-wide effort. When faced with the prospect of 3700 to 3900 Veterans, Menchhofer approached Amy Streator to get the process of a 501(c)(3) (non-profit organization) started.
Then came funding! Ripley County Community Foundation (RCCF) allowed Wreaths Across Ripley County (WARC) to be listed under their 501(c)(3) as a permanent endowment fund.
This year, there is a National Day of Giving. On November 3, RCCF will match 50% of each donation, up to $5000 per organization. What a way to increase funds for this worthwhile project!
Menchhofer reports there is only about 50% of funds needed for this year, to date. Wreaths cost about $17 each. One can donate at: RCCFonline.org. Click “donate today.” And scroll down to WARC.
One can also donate by making out a check to WARC and mailing to RCCF, 13 E George St. Suite B, Batesville, IN 47006.
Many businesses and organizations donate to WARC. Menchhofer mentions: Southeastern IN REMC; Decatur REMC; Tarter and Crum Memorial Fund in Osgood; and the Tyson Fund.
Menchhofer also acknowledges others that are huge supporters: The Milan Legion; Milan Legion Ladies Auxiliary; and Sons of American Legion (SAL) donated approximately $16,000 last year!
Other large donors are: Tri Kappa; the Lions Club; and the Retired Teachers.
When WAA began, there was a Gold Star Mother, also a retired teacher, that worked with Wreaths Across America (WAA) to develop lesson plans for schools K-12.
Any person, teacher, or youth leader wishing to teach about our Veterans, the cost of Freedom, and the importance of remembering, may go to the WAA site and access (Free!) lesson plans and learning activities. (www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/teach)
WAA began in the 1990’s. Worcester Wreath Company in Maine, got “stuck” with 5000 wreaths ordered by LL Bean Co. Upon having so many extra wreaths, Worcester Wreath Company decided to lay them on the Veterans graves in Arlington Cemetery.
Baylor Trucking was enlisted to deliver the wreaths and an entire movement was started. Baylor Trucking founder, Bob Baylor decked out two semi-trucks to deliver the precious cargo.
On the side of the trucks is Buddy Boone, a classmate of Baylor’s. Boone was killed in the September 11, 2001 plane crash at the Pentagon. Further, on Baylor’s grave marker stone is a picture of he and his wife, Beth Neal-Baylor holding a wreath from this shipment.
Baylor Trucking delivers all the Wreaths, from the Worcester Wreath Company, to all the communities. The WARC wreaths will be delivered to the Farm Bureau Building at the Ripley County Fairgrounds.
The wreaths are then distributed. Individual organizations pick up the wreaths and put them on local Veterans graves in their local cemeteries.
These wreaths are placed and retired by local school groups, local youth organizations and church groups. Any group can sign up to deliver wreaths and place them on Veterans graves. However, they are also encouraged to retire the wreaths by spring (usually by spring break at the latest).
Any family member that would like to personally place the wreath on their Veteran family member’s grave may contact Menchhofer to arrange this. They will be given a contact person, time, and date to meet at the cemetery to lay the wreath.
To place your family member’s wreath, contact Menchhofer by text or call him at (812) 756-0160; or by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You MUST contact Menchhofer by December 10 to participate in laying your family member’s wreath.
National Wreath Day is December 16. There will be a Ceremony at the courthouse on December 16 at noon (12 p.m.). A program will be conducted by the Sunman Sea Cadets.
Fifty-five wreaths will be placed at the Courthouse Square to commemorate the Veterans in cemeteries that are not accessible by the public.
There will be one special wreath placed at the Courthouse Square to commemorate those Veterans who have been cremated and/or placed in unmarked graves.
Please attend this Ceremony, on December 16 at noon, in memory of our Veterans to honor such a very high price many paid for our freedoms.