The kick-off ceremony for Wreaths Across America will be held Monday morning at the Walmart Distribution Center in St. James.
"This is the first year our office has been designated as a kick-off location," said Rocky Griffith, a local Walmart employee who is coordinating Monday's event.
On a national level, Walmart is donating 14 tractor/trailers to transport more than 75,000 wreaths to national cemeteries nationwide. The effort is part of Walmart's involvement in Wreaths Across America and National Wreath Laying Day, held on Dec. 15. A total of 36 Walmart Distribution Centers and 95 drivers across the country will be involved in transporting wreaths from Harrington, Maine, to their destinations.
The kick-off event will send two trailer loads of balsam fir memorial wreaths through the St. James Distribution Center.
"The Walmart Foundation and our associates will sponsor 31,000 wreaths in 2012. This year Walmart’s total contribution to WAA will be $450,000" Griffith wrote. "We will deliver wreaths to nine states, plus the District of Columbia, to be placed during ceremonies at Arlington, Virginia, and Fayetteville, Arkansas, as well as ceremonies in Arizona, California, Florida, Tennessee and Texas.
Wreaths will also be placed in remembrance of 9/11 victims in New York, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon."
On Dec. 15, local participants in the event will lay wreaths on the more than 700 graves at the Veterans Memorial Cemetery in St. James "in remembrance of military veterans," Griffith said.
Walmart is the largest corporate supporter of Wreaths Across America.
Wreaths Across America began in 2006 as an offshoot of the Arlington National Cemetery wreath project, which was started in 1992 with the annual placement of wreaths donated by Worcester Wreath Co.
Today, it is a monumental initiative, with partners like Walmart, Civil Air Patrol, the Patriot Guard Riders, the Maine State Society of Washington, D.C., and other veterans’ groups participating, not to mention the tens of thousands of private citizens who sponsor wreaths for the wreath-laying ceremonies.