The holiday season so often becomes a time for celebration with loved ones, but for thousands of families across the country, it’s also a time for remembrance. On December 15, volunteers laid Christmas wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, and at other cemeteries across the United States to honor and remember the brave men and women who have sacrificed their lives in service to the country. In Virginia, a family of independently owned hardware stores supported the effort, paying respect to its local community as much as to its country.
Taylor’s Do it Center in Hampton Roads and Pleasants Hardware in Richmond raised money throughout the holiday season to purchase wreaths for the cemeteries. Matching customer donations up to $2,500, this network of family-owned hardware stores raised over $30,000 for Wreaths Across America, the national nonprofit that spearheads the wreath-laying ceremonies. These funds provided wreaths for use at Arlington National Cemetery and several local Virginia veterans cemeteries. Taylor’s and Pleasants also coordinated a group of volunteers to participate in laying the wreaths on National Wreaths Across America Day on December 15.
This was the second year in a row that the hardware stores supported Wreaths Across America. Joe Taylor, president and CEO of Taylor’s and Pleasants, says his small businesses’ support was inspired in part by a tragedy in the local community.
In 2011, 30 U.S. servicemen and a military dog were killed after their helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. The crew included 15 Navy SEALs and five Navy support personnel from Virginia Beach. As a result, the tragedy devastated Taylor’s community.
“We support Team Bear, which is the top fundraising team for all of Wreaths Across America and grew out of this tragedy,” says Taylor. “We want to support these efforts because of the servicemen who lost their lives from our local community. It’s a great way to honor them and their families.”
The work of Taylor’s and Pleasants, Team Bear and Wreaths Across America brings holiday comfort to thousands of families across the U.S. In total, volunteers laid wreaths this year at Arlington National Cemetery and 1,500 additional locations, spanning all 50 states and overseas. As celebrations occurred around Christmas trees, dining tables, and fireplaces throughout the holiday season, this work honored those brave men and women who won’t celebrate with their families but will never be forgotten.
This story is part of our ongoing ‘Local Memories, Lasting Impact’ series that highlights small, locally owned businesses and the differences they make in their communities.