LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - American Legion Auxiliary Unit #113 is hoping for a Christmas miracle.
Every year the Legion participates in Wreaths Across America. The program's goal is to put wreaths on every fallen service members grave. For the past few years, the legion has had problems meeting the needs inside Garden of Memories Cemetery.
"There is no official count, but we believe somewhere between 500-600 graves here," President Rita Redd said. "Right now we have about 97 wreaths."
Redd is the daughter and wife of a service member and has a passion for the event.
"We did not have any advertising, so it is hard to get the word out," Redd said. "The wreaths cost $15 and are shipped in from Massachusetts. We get $5 for each wreath and that goes to paying for the flags we put out on Memorial Day."
Barb Robinson helps Redd and her team. Robinson said she could not believe what she heard about falling short.
"The least we can do is show up," Robinson said. " Just show up. I mean they did. They showed up for every war. It is not hard."
Robinson also said she was disheartened by the low turnout the event had last year. the event is held every year on the Saturday before Christmas. It starts promptly at 11 a.m. While the event is going on in Lufkin, it is also going on across the nation at the same time including Arlington National Cemetery.
"I was heartbroken," Robinson said. "To see all those empty seats."
Robinson said she made a wreath that cost $9. She admitted many will spend more on one gift for someone and that money could go to a better cause. Robinson was soon joined by Chasity Boatman. Boatman owns Marco's Pizza and the company donated two patriotic wreaths.
"I have military in my family," Boatman said. "Veterans do so much, so the least we could do is donate some wreaths to them."
Soon after going on social media with a plea for more wreaths, a woman dropped off two more. Boatman said she has also got negative remarks.
"I have heard people tell me that they won't do it because of the president," Boatman said. "That shouldn't matter. I got a few Facebook messages from people saying, 'Oh I'd like to go but it is too cold.' These people went to war. They left their families. The least we could do is sit in the cold for a little bit, pay our respects and bring a wreath."
Redd is grateful for the help but is hoping next year orders can get made on time.
"Most of them have family, and most of them would like to have their veteran honored," Redd said. "We can't do it if we don't have the wreaths. "
The ceremony will be December 17 at 11 a.m. The ceremony is located near the back of the Garden of Memories located on U.S. Highway 59 South between Lufkin and Diboll."