— As a way of honoring those who served, community members across Genesee County are invited to participate in the upcoming Wreaths Across America wreath laying ceremony at noon Dec. 11 at Great Lakes National Cemetery, 4200 Belford Rd.
The cemetery serves as the final resting place for more than 10,000 military members from Michigan, and is one of 350 world-wide sites that participates in a simultaneous wreath laying ceremony on Dec. 11. Flint Township resident Dawn Vanderhyde and her family, along with another area family, are working with Wreaths Across America to ensure members of the military buried at Great Lakes National Cemetery receive recognition.
After Vanderhyde’s father passed away in December 2007, he was interred at Great Lakes National Cemetery. In December 2008, Vanderhyde and her family took a trip to her father’s favorite vacation spot. After returning home, the family visited the cemetery after the wreath laying ceremony and noticed that a wreath had been placed on her father’s headstone. After researching the organization, Vanderhyde decided to get involved in the the organization.
“We are now in our second year of accepting donations for Wreaths Across America,” she said. “Last year, 2,008 wreaths were placed at the cemetery.”
This year, Vanderhyde’s group has a goal of personally raising enough money to purchase 175-200 wreaths for the cemetery and the upcoming wreath laying ceremony on Dec. 11. In total, only 600 wreaths have been reserved for the cemetery. “We definitely want to break the 2,000 mark,” Vanderhyde said.
To help raise awareness of the event and to purchase wreaths, Vanderhyde’s family has held several fundraising events at local businesses. The group’s next fundraising event is a gift wrapping event Dec. 4-5 at Borders on Miller Rd. The group will be accepting donations for gift wrapping purchases. For a $15 donation, individuals or businesses can purchase a wreath.
The deadline for individuals and small businesses to place orders for wreaths with Vanderhyde’s group is Dec. 6. Individuals and businesses also can order wreaths online by visiting www.wreathsacrossamerica.org, clicking “Sponsor a Wreath,” selecting “MIchigan” for the state, then selecting “Great Lakes National Cemetery Holly (MIGLNH)” for the location, then “Michigan” for the fundraising group location and finally inputting “MINVP2P01” for the Group ID. Corporate sponsorships also are available. Checks can be made out to: Wreaths Across America.
“It is necessary for this information to be with the order to ensure a wreath being earmarked for Great Lakes National Cemetery,” Vanderhyde said. “If someone would like a wreath placed specifically on a loved one’s gravesite, they will need to contact me directly to purchase the wreath. We will then obtain the name of the fallen soldier, look them up on the National Gravesite Registry and place a wreath at their headstone. If a wreath is ordered through the website, it cannot be done. It must be ordered through our group.”
The group also is accepting the Community Share Points from the bottom of VG’s receipts to help purchase wreaths. The receipts can be dropped off at the Borders event, or individuals can contact Vanderhyde to make arrangements.
The wreath laying ceremony at noon on Dec. 11 is free and open to the public. “People can come out and help place the wreaths,” Vanderhyde said. The Great Lakes National Cemetery wreath laying ceremony coincides with simultaneous wreath laying ceremonies at more than 350 locations all across the world.
Details: Call 810-230-1164 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org