AP NEWS

Wreaths of America Effort Fully Stocked

December 14, 2018

CHELMSFORD -- With only a few weeks to work last year, Kay Haywood was able to raise enough money to place a wreath on the vast majority of veterans’ graves in town.

This time, with a whole year to plan, organize and raise funds, Haywood met her Wreaths of America goal early -- with some seed money left over for next year.

Haywood said she was overcome with emotion when she realized she’d raised enough to place about 1,880 wreaths in honor of Chelmsford’s fallen heroes. It was at her silent auction and raffle night Nov. 10 at the American Legion hall in North Chelmsford, the third large fundraiser she’d held.

“When we hit that number, I cried,” Haywood said.

She said “it fills my heart” that so many in Chelmsford have supported her efforts, including the Chelmsford Elks, the town fire and police unions, the Chelmsford Police Athletic League, a local electrical workers union and a number of local businesses and individual residents.

Growing up in a family of veterans, Haywood has always had a deep respect for their sacrifices. She said she feels it’s important to honor all veterans, including those who have died and may not have family nearby or any left at all.

That’s where Wreaths of America comes in, to place wreaths at their graves throughout the holiday season, as a reminder of their contributions.

The wreaths will arrive in town Friday morning, and police will escort the truck to Pine Ridge Cemetery, Haywood said.

On Saturday, a ceremony will be held at Veterans Memorial Park on North Road. Three students from Chelmsford High School will sing the national anthem, and local veteran Sam Poulten will play “Taps,” Haywood said.

Members of the Merrimack Valley Vietnam Veterans will form the color guard, and members of American Legion Post 313 the honor guard, she said.

A veteran from each branch of the military will place a ceremonial wreath in honor of their branch, as well as in honor of Merchant Marines and prisoners of war, Haywood said.

From there, wreath laying will begin at Pine Ridge, followed by Fairview, West Chelmsford, Heart Pond, Forefathers and Riverside cemeteries, she said.

Other area communities also participate in Wreaths of America and will have wreath laying ceremonies this weekend:

- Dracut: Saturday at 9 a.m., starts Dracut American Legion Post 315, 574 Broadway Road.

- Billerica: Saturday at 12 p.m., Fox Hill Cemetery on Andover Road.

- Devens: Saturday at 10 a.m., Fort Devens Post Cemetery on Patton Road.

- Groton: Saturday at 12 p.m., Old Burying Ground on School Street.

- Westford: Saturday at 12 p.m., Pine Grove Cemetery on Forge Village Road.

For more information, visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org .

Follow Alana Melanson at facebook.com/alana.lowellsun or on Twitter @alanamelanson.

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