MEIGS COUNTY — National Wreaths Across America (WAA) Day was observed this year on Saturday, Dec. 18. Volunteers of all ages are essential to the project, but perhaps none more so than the young persons who dotted the landscape during the wreath laying at cemeteries across Meigs County.
A few of the many examples of their volunteer spirit are captured in this story.
Lila Cooper, great granddaughter of World War II veteran Delbert Smith, took part in wreath laying at Letart Cemetery. This day was a culmination of her efforts at fundraising throughout the year. Cooper is a high school student at Southern Local in Racine, and raised $5,300 in donations. She said her great grandfather was one of the biggest reasons she become involved with WAA, raising $600 her first year.
Cooper shared her thoughts on Facebook, posting: “2021 has brought so so so many good things including Wreath Adventure! I’m absolutely blown away by the turn out this year. To say I’m thankful would be an understatement. I couldn’t thank everyone that has helped enough. I’m so excited to start the new year and see how far we can take it. I was able to raise around $5,300 this year, thank you to this amazing small town, thank you so much to everyone that has helped, let’s get all of Meigs County covered!”
Cooper’s mother, Jessica Smith-Cooper and sister Alia were also at the event. Jessica said, “Even though Alia probably doesn’t fully understand, at her age, exactly what she’s doing or the impact she’s having on such an event, she loved getting right in there to help.”
Accompanied by their troop co-leader, Jennifer Reese McKibben, members of Girl Scout Troop 51004 Hannah Hart, Heidi Hart, and Erin McKibben were among the many volunteers that helped lay wreaths on 380 grave sites in Memory Gardens in Pomeroy. Co-leader Melissa Lamb and her daughter Brailynn participated in wreath laying at the Reedsville Cemetery. This was the second year the troop was involved in the effort, and both leaders said they were proud of their troop.
Loyalty is Forever organizer Lori Miller was responsible for managing the delivery of the wreaths in conjunction with Craig Matheny who established Wreath Adventures, LLC to assist in the effort of establishing a Wreaths Across America presence in Meigs and Athens counties.
“These kids are our future,” said Miller. “They will be the ones to carry this project forward. It is important that we celebrate their contributions and that they know they are an important part of this project.”
Each wreath costs $15 and is funded through donations. Wreaths for next year can be ordered at a buy-one-get-one-free promotion until Jan. 10. While contributions and orders are accepted all year, donors are encouraged to purchase wreaths by the Jan. 10 deadline, as donations would go twice as far toward the project.
Wreath Adventures, LLC is a local nonprofit that allows donations to go directly to purchase wreaths for local cemeteries. Donations can be made by mail to Wreath Adventures LLC, 504 Four Mile Creek Road Coolville, Ohio 45723, or by using PayPal. For more on Wreath Adventures find them on Facebook, visit their website: wreathadventures.org, or contact Craig Matheny at 740-667-3513.
The story of Wreaths Across American can be found on at: WreathsAcrossAmerica.org.
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Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.