On a sunny Saturday morning in early January, sisters Carolyn Sanders, Kari Sanders, Laura Lawrence, and Rosemary Perez gathered with other family members at one of the newest veterans’ cemeteries in the United States to take down holiday wreaths, sweep up the grounds, and haul away waste.
The members of Aleli Parlor had volunteered to remove the wreaths at California Central Coast Veterans Cemetery, which opened in 2018 on the former Fort Ord in Seaside. This was part of our collective mission as Native Daughters to better the quality of life through active participation in community service. As an organization, Native Daughters of the Golden West joins in various projects throughout the state that help our veterans. However, smaller parlors may have a difficult time getting sisters to “actively” participate in community service.
Over the years, Aleli Parlor has donated their coin march funds to various causes during the year, but has struggled to commit to community service projects. We have purchased pine trees through the USFS Penny Pines Program. We have donated to our local food bank. In November, Aleli Parlor voted to use their coin march funds to purchase wreaths through Wreaths Across America and selected the California Central Coast Veterans Cemetery to receive the wreaths Aleli Parlor sponsored. This year, we did more than just donate funds—we added a community service project to the donation.
National Wreaths Across America Day is a day that has been set aside annually in December to lay wreaths at veterans’ cemeteries, monuments, and parks. It is a movement to cover all veterans’ grave markers with a Christmas wreath at more than 1,600 locations. California is home to nine Veterans Administration national cemeteries and seven state veterans’ cemeteries. In addition to sponsoring the wreaths, many organizations volunteer to lay the wreaths at the sites or to remove the wreaths after the holidays.
This year, Wreaths Across America Day is December 19, 2020. We encourage you to donate to Wreaths Across America (click here) and volunteer to lay the wreaths or remove them after the holidays at a cemetery near you.