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Wreaths Across America falling short of wreath goal in Austin amid COVID-19 pandemic

Organizers say they only have 30% of their goal for getting wreaths on every gravestone at the Texas State Cemetery.

AUSTIN, Texas — For the last several years, thousands of wreaths have been laid on gravestones at the Texas State Cemetery in mid-December for the Wreaths Across America ceremony.

The idea is for people to use the holiday spirit to honor the fallen veterans and prominent Texans that are laid to rest there. 

"Wreaths Across America's three-fold mission is to remember our fallen, those that have served and are serving and their families and to teach the next generation the value of freedom," said Ellen Fuller, a volunteer and the co-chair of Austin's Wreaths Across America. 

But this is no ordinary year. As the coronavirus pandemic continues, Fuller said this year's ceremony will be pre-recorded and posted online on Dec. 19. 

Usually, there is a ceremony in the morning, and the public lays down wreaths on every gravestone throughout the cemetery. 

But the way Wreaths Across America gets those wreaths is through sponsorships. When you sponsor a wreath, you are also donating money for that wreath to be purchased. 

"Sadly, because of COVID, we are only at 30% of our goal," Fuller told KVUE. "Of 3,300, we're only 1,017."

Fuller said Nov. 30 is the deadline to sponsor a wreath. You can sponsor one here.

Credit: Luis de Leon
For the last several years, Wreaths Across America has made it a goal to have every grave stone covered with a wreath during the Holidays. (2018)

One Central Texas boy has made it his mission for the last few years to make sure no grave goes uncovered.

Nine-year-old Remmer Machamer has raised thousands of dollars over the last few years by going door-to-door. But due to the pandemic, he said he's had to find other options for fundraising. 

RELATED: Cedar Park 7-year-old raises money for Wreaths Across America

"I’m a bit nervous because of COVID – I’m worried that people may not answer the door or maybe they'd not want to be around me," Machamer said. "[I've been going] online, attending meetings, going to events and stuff like that.”

Machamer has been recognized at the last few ceremonies for Wreaths Across America in Austin. He even met Gov. Greg Abbot in 2018.

Credit: Luis de Leon
Remmer Machamer meeting Governor Greg Abbott in 2018 at the Wreaths Across America ceremony.

Machamer said he just wants to honor those who served the country. 

"Because they risk their lives – some of them even lost their lives and they should all be remembered for what they did," Machamer said. "It’s not for me. It’s for all the soldiers that need to be remembered."

Machamer and Fuller both said that if they aren't able to place wreaths at every gravestone, flags will be put down instead, as is done on Veterans Day. 

You can sponsor a wreath through Remmer's donation page here.

Credit: Luis de Leon
Flags are put in front of grave stones at the Texas State Cemetery on Veterans Day.

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