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Jolene Guzman | Itemizer-Observer file

Dallas Old Guard Riders will host two Wreaths Across America events on Dec. 14.

DALLAS — Last December, the Dallas chapter of the Old Guard Riders and numerous volunteers partnered with Wreaths Across America to place Christmas wreaths on the graves of veterans in Dallas Cemetery.

This year, the effort has expanded to Restlawn Cemetery off Highway 22 just outside of Salem. Wreaths will be placed on Dec. 14 at 8 a.m. at Dallas Cemetery, and 10 a.m. at Restlawn. Volunteers are needed for both events.

Wreaths Across America is a nonprofit that organizes ceremonies to honor veterans during the Christmas season. The movement started in 2007, and has grown to include 1,000 cemetery locations and 700,000 memorial wreaths.

Neil Martinez, the president and founder of Dallas Old Guard Riders, said the program has enough support to place 600 wreaths in each cemetery, and still has time to raise money to place more. Martinez credits the success of last year’s event to the increasing support.

“I think we are doing pretty good for our second year. Last year was our first year, so people were probably a little leery … and now they’ve seen it,” Martinez. “The more the public gives, the more wreaths we can place on veterans’ graves.”

Donations will be accepted until Dec. 2. Contact Martinez at 541-415-6891 to offer a donation. Those wanting to help place wreaths can simply show up at either cemetery on the day of the events.

Martinez said a ceremony will take place at Restlawn at 10 a.m. on Dec. 14, followed by wreath placement.

The Old Guard Riders have more plans in the works. The group would like to host a veterans’ appreciation barbecue in Dallas City Park next year, and will put together Easter baskets for children in foster care in Polk, Marion and Yamhill counties. In 2018, the organization made 965 baskets.

Martinez said he would like to expand the Wreaths Across America program in Polk County.

“Our main goal here at the Old Guard Riders is by next year, that we have so many wreaths for every single veteran’s grave in all the cemeteries around here,” Martinez said. “It’s a big thing to ask, but I want to see that in the future. It takes a lot of giving and a lot of time.”

You can help

What: Wreaths Across America

Where: Dallas Cemetery, 2065 SW Fairview Ave., Dallas and Restlawn 201 Oak Grove Road, NW, Salem.

When: 8 a.m. at Dallas Cemetery. A ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. at Restlawn.

For more information: Neil Martinez, 541-415-6891.

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(1) comment

Dallas Mom

Please be cautious when giving to this so called non-profit of Wreaths Across America they are not what they say they are they are a SCAM a rip off. More than 74% of the money they take in goes to a wreath company that is owned by the family members on the board of Wreaths Across America who only do business with One Wreath Company. The get volunteers to lay the wreaths, volunteers to truck the wreaths, volunteers to raise funds to buy the wreaths. They get free advertisement by local news channels by people who fall for their scam and think they are doing good by paying tribute to our Veterans, or the local news paper like our local paper just did. They sell the wreaths to people online and do not deliver them to there loved ones graves as promised. I am embarrassed to see this horrible company being given this free advertisement once again. Please get your facts people BEFORE you support this horrible company. If you want to honor your Veterans who have passed. Buy local where at least the money you are spending is staying in our state or community. If you need help finding a local supplier try Google. Wreaths Dallas Oregon Or Salem or Oregon anything other than Wreaths Across America!

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