AUSTIN, Texas — As of Nov. 11, Austin's chapter of Wreaths Across America only had 30% of its goal for wreaths to be laid on gravestones at the Texas State Cemetery.
"Sadly, because of COVID, we are only at 30% of our goal," Ellen Fuller, a volunteer and the co-chair of Austin's Wreaths Across America, told KVUE on Nov. 11. "Of 3,300, we're only [at] 1,017."
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," Fuller said.
After fears that the pandemic was hindering the organization's ability to fundraise for the wreaths, Fuller told KVUE on Dec. 2 that a generous donation from the national chapter of Wreaths Across America, plus fundraising from the community – including a 9-year-old boy from Cedar Park – helped organizers reach their goal.
She also 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.
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.
Machamer has been recognized at the last few ceremonies for Wreaths Across America in Austin. He even met Gov. Greg Abbot in 2018.
Machamer told KVUE in November that 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."
This year, Machamer's fundraising contributed 25% of what was raised for the Austin chapter to meet its wreath goal. Fifty percent was raised by community donations and the national Wreaths Across America chapter covered the rest.
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