The High Desert Grange held its wreath recycling event at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery on Jan. 23.
Suzann Gilliland Peterson
Jan. 23 marked the second year the High Desert Grange has partnered with the Nevada Veterans Coalition through coalition volunteer Roger Elliott to recycle Christmas wreaths at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
The High Desert Grange is a family organization focusing on community service. The Nevada Veterans Coalition is a group of veterans and non-veterans that support the NNVMC.
Grangers along with goat and sheep producers from Fallon, Fernley, Silver Springs and Lovelock, met at the cemetery at 9 a.m. in trucks and trailers, some parked there the night before. They were joined by Nevada Veterans Coalition volunteers from these areas as well as from Sparks and Reno.
Grangers and coalition volunteers helped pick up the wreaths and clean up the cemetery while producers loaded wreaths onto their trucks and trailers for repurposing as treats for their goats and sheep. COVID protocols were followed. Inclement weather notwithstanding, all involved were focused on helping and enjoying the opportunity to do a good deed.
The wreath recycling program is a natural outgrowth of Wreaths Across America, a national event where individuals volunteer to lay Christmas wreaths on the graves of veterans at rest in cemeteries throughout the country. Elliott coordinates that event for the Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery and has acted in this capacity for seven years.
Wreaths Across America takes both planning and community support at the local level. Elliott starts months in advance, attending local events such as the Fallon Cantaloupe Festival where he stations a booth to pass out wreath information and request donations. This year, 8,000 wreaths were laid before Christmas at the cemetery.
How to efficiently dispose of the wreaths had been a challenge for Elliott, It can cost up to $2,500 to have them hauled to a landfill by a local waste disposal company. Several years ago, Roger’s desire to find a better way to recycle the wreaths led him to the High Desert Grange. This partnership has allowed the cemetery to repurpose the wreaths at no cost, thereby reallocating those funds to pay for cemetery flags, honor guard uniforms, and more.
The High Desert Grange thanks everyone who participated in this event and looks forward to working with the Nevada Veterans Coalition next year. Elliott said he’s grateful for the support of the High Desert Grange and especially thankful for the support of the Nevada Veterans Coalition volunteers who donate their time and labor and without whom these programs would not exist. He encourages people to participate in these programs next year, to meet and talk with the veteran volunteers and to learn about them.
Recycling wreaths has proven to be a win/win situation not only for the NNVMC, the Nevada Veterans Coalition and the High Desert Grange, but also for some mighty lucky goats and sheep.