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Young Marines gain on goal of 2,000 wreaths for veterans' graves

Columbian - 11/28/2018

Nov. 28--A local youth group is closer than ever to reaching its goal of collecting 2,000 wreaths to place on the graves of veterans at Evergreen Memorial Gardens.

So far, the members of Lewis and Clark Young Marines have earned sponsorships for 1,350 wreaths. The deadline for wreath sponsorship is Dec. 3 to ensure the wreaths have enough time to be made and delivered in time for the Dec. 15Wreaths Across America ceremony.

"Once the wreaths are sponsored, they're delivered directly to the cemetery just prior to the ceremony. We have a very humbling, respectful, honoring ceremony inside the chapel where we honor every branch of the military," said Debbie Crawford, the Wreaths Across America coordinator and public affairs officer for Lewis and Clark Young Marines.

The approximately 70 members of the local Young Marines chapter will then head outside to lay each wreath on the grave of a veteran buried in the cemetery.

"We don't just toss them out there like Frisbees. We stand, we salute, we respectfully place the wreaths," Crawford said.

Wreaths Across America is an annual event that started at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia and has since worked its way across the country.

This is the fourth year that the local chapter has taken on the event. So far, the young boys and girls in the Young Marines have bested previous years.

"Last year was our best year ever. We sold 461," Crawford said. "We've almost tripled last year."

Pvt. Gage Jensen, 11, is the top wreath-seller in the Lewis and Clark Young Marines so far. He's sold 74, and counting.

"My family is a big military family. My Dad's in the Army. My Uncle Josh and Uncle Nick are in the military," Gage said. "Me and my Mom are a team, and I asked my close friends and family to help me honor the memories of my nation's heroes."

His mother, Sanda Jensen, wrote in an email to The Columbian that the wreaths aren't solicited through door-to-door sales.

"We reach out to our families and friends, spread the word at work, and share on Facebook or any social media website, where anyone can go to a Young Marine's individual page and sponsor as many wreaths as they would like," Jensen wrote.

"As mothers (and fathers) of these incredible young boys and girls, we are so proud of what they are trying to accomplish and how dedicated they are to helping our communities remember and honor our fallen soldiers."

Local businesses and community organizations can earn a shoutout on the Young Marines' Wall of Fame posted to the group's Facebook page if they buy wreaths in bulk. So far, the top buyers are the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 48 and the Southwest Washington Learning Center partnered with Debbie Lally Rinell. Both organizations bought 100 wreaths apiece.

"Our businesses and our veterans organizations, all of these different groups are coming together and saying, 'You know, we really like what our Young Marines are doing.' "

Wreaths cost $15, with $5 going back to the Lewis and Clark Young Marines. To sponsor a wreath, visit the organization's website or its Facebook page at facebook.com/lcym2002.


(c)2018 The Columbian (Vancouver, Wash.)

Visit The Columbian (Vancouver, Wash.) at www.columbian.com

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