Wreaths laid on National Wreaths Across America Day last year at Serenity Meadows Memorial Park, Funeral Home & Crematory.

“Remember the fallen. Honor those who serve. Teach the next generation the value of freedom.” This is the yearlong mission of Wreaths Across America (WAA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit started in 2007 as an answer to the call for sponsored wreaths to honor our veterans. This year, National Wreaths Across America Day, during which volunteers will lay over 2 million live balsam wreaths, is Saturday, December 16.

WAA’s theme for 2023 is ‘Serve and Succeed.’

“There are many ways to serve your community and country, and just as many definitions of success. We hope through focusing on those stories of success we will help change the dialogue around what it means to serve your country,” said Karen Worcester, executive director of Wreaths Across America.

Nationwide, over 4,000 locations and more than 2 million volunteers are participating this year. Alongside them are transportation companies and their drivers who will help deliver over 650 truckloads of sponsored wreaths. It’s a massive coordination effort for the good cause of honoring America’s heroes.

One location in our area that’s taking part is Serenity Meadows Memorial Park, Funeral Home & Crematory. National Wreaths Across America Day at Serenity Meadows starts at 9 a.m. with the ceremony beginning at 10 a.m., followed immediately by wreath placement.

About the local support for WAA, Kalyn Dukes, family service counselor at Serenity Meadows, said, “It’s good. I mean, we’re in a military community here, a lot of veterans are here. There’s a lot of support. We have…a lot of Scouting troops, Mission BBQ, several air patrol, some VFW, different groups like that.”

She added that it’s looking like hundreds of people will be attending, and attendees will have a chance to lay a wreath or two.

Serenity Meadows is still accepting volunteers. For anyone wanting to find out how they can help, please call 813-677-9494 and ask for Dukes, who is coordinating National Wreaths Across America Day at Serenity Meadows.

Serenity Meadows has actually surpassed its goal of 600 sponsored wreaths for Wreaths Across America Day, but additional donations are always appreciated and will be used next year. And, of course, other locations hosting the day might need wreaths. Sponsoring a wreath costs only $17.

To learn more about Wreaths Across America or how to get involved, visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org. For Serenity Meadows’ WAA page, visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/social/flsmfh-serenitymeadowsmemorialparkfuneralhomeandcrematory?sid=45982|17920|0|1.

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Taylor Wells is a relatively recently hired news reporter for the Osprey Observer, having been with the paper only since October 8, 2018. Aside from writing articles, he helps edit and upload them to the Osprey Observer site, and is always available to help other staff members in his spare time. He graduated from Saint Leo University with a bachelor’s degree in professional writing and lives in Valrico.