SUFFOLK, Va. — It is a sight to behold every December: Rows and rows of live evergreen wreaths placed at the markers of every grave at the Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery in Suffolk.
Those wreaths purchased and lovingly placed each year for more than a decade by the Horton Wreath Society.
The all-volunteer group raises money throughout the year to purchase the wreaths, but this year they are in danger of not meeting their goal for the first time.
"The anxiety right now is very high, the stress is high. I mean, because our goal has always been to place one wreath at each burial site, and we've accomplished that mission," Horton Wreath Society President Mike Yarbrough told News 3 anchor Todd Corillo.
Unfortunately, the nature of the cemetery in a region like Hampton Roads that has a high concentration of veterans means that the Horton Wreath Society must raise more money each consecutive year to purchase a larger number of wreaths to account for new burials.
"There's probably about 1,000 or so even maybe a little bit more burials each year," Yarbrough explained.
"Last year, we did 10,740 wreaths and this year, the goal was we're projecting 12,050 wreaths," he added.
Right now the group is short funding to purchase about 1,600 wreaths to meet their goal for the year and is facing a deadline next week to place the order.
Yarbrough is a Navy veteran and also has three loved ones buried at the cemetery, so the effort is deeply personal, as is the case for many of the Horton Wreath Society volunteers.
"Once it's done, I mean, you just look out there and you see all those wreaths out there, it's just so heartwarming that you've accomplished the mission. You've paid the respect to the veterans and remembering them at this point in time of the year," he shared.
The Horton Wreath Society remains hopeful they can raise the necessary money to once again meet their goal. They are also looking for volunteers to help in the effort. On Friday they updated News 3, saying they have been getting calls and emails from viewers. Thank you to all who have reached out so far!
If you're interested in donating or volunteering, you can learn more by visiting their website here.