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Volunteers needed for Wreaths Across America in Laurel | OLD TOWN

In December 2017, during Lisa Wright’s first year of coordinating Wreaths Across America in Laurel, the wreaths didn’t arrive in time for the ceremony she carefully had planned. She thought she would look back at that as the biggest hiccup she would encounter in her efforts to honor our nation’s veterans.

She didn’t count on a global pandemic.

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This year, like the ones before, Wright has to lay wreaths at the graves of more than 200 veterans buried in Ivy Hill Cemetery along Sandy Spring Road. But this year she has to do so during a surge in COVID-19 cases that has restricted how many volunteers can gather to assist her and limited the size and type of ceremony she can organize.

“I wasn’t prepared for this year at all,” Wright said with a laugh. “But you just change, adapt and you still move on. My feeling is the same about our veterans. They didn’t just say, ‘Well sorry, we can’t do it.’ They forged ahead and did what they had to do and I’m not going to let them down.”

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A ceremony and wreath laying is scheduled for Dec. 19. The past few years have seen a large turnout from the community to honor veterans ahead of the holidays, but this year’s ceremony will be invitation-only because of limits on gathering. Wright said that, as of Dec. 3, final details are still being worked out, but the ceremony may be livestreamed or recorded.

The morning will include the laying of ceremonial wreaths and representatives from the American Legion and Ride for the Fallen, Wright said. This year, Fidos for Freedom will also be present to honor service animals.

Wright said she is particularly honored that Theresa Karlson, the Gold Star mother of Laurel native Lance Cpl. Eugene C. Mills III, will also be present at the ceremony. Mills joined the Marine Corps after his high school graduation in 2008. He was just 21 years old when he was killed in combat in Helmand province, Afghanistan in 2012.

Volunteers are needed to assist on both Dec. 18 and 19. On Dec. 18, volunteers will help divide the cemetery into sections and mark graves for the wreath laying the following day. On Dec. 19, volunteers will be assigned a time slot to help place wreaths on the graves of veterans.

Those interested in volunteering on Dec. 18 to prepare for the event may contact Wright at waaivyhill@gmail.com. Volunteers for Dec. 19 can sign up for a time slot at wreathsacrossamerica.org. Search for Ivy Hill Cemetery under the locations section and register for a specific time.

“This city and this town [have] just been so awesome in stepping up to help out,” Wright said. “I am sure it will all come together.”

The Laurel Historical Society is spreading Christmas cheer virtually this year by offering the webinar Early Victorian Christmas History and Traditions at 7 p.m. Thursday. Executive Director Ann Bennett will teach about Victorian celebrations and how they influence our festivities now, including traditions like gift giving, Christmas trees, Christmas cards, feasting and song.

The one-hour webinar is free and open to all, but registration is required. Go to bit.ly/3m47WPzEarlyVictorianXmas to register, or go to laurelhistoricalsociety.org and click on the link on the right side of the page.

The Laurel Museum shop is open for online orders and offers many unique gifts for Laurel enthusiasts. T-shirts, ornaments, face masks, pillows and other gifts with a Laurel theme are available at laurelhistoricalsociety.org.

Two teachers at St. Vincent Pallotti High School were recently recognized for their gifts by the Archdiocese of Washington High School Principals Association. Isabelle Ryan, an English and history teacher in her second year at Pallotti, was named the school’s Novice Teacher of the Year. 2003 Pallotti graduate Katie Grenchik, who has taught science at her alma mater for nine years, was named the school’s Veteran Teacher of the Year. Congratulations.

Pallotti High School has commemorative 100-year Christmas ornaments available for sale on the school website. Go to pallottihs.org and select the Support Pallotti tab to purchase an ornament in honor of the school’s centennial year.

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