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Wreaths Across America boosted by donation from Laurel’s Mission BBQ | OLD TOWN

Two beloved Laurel organizations — one a nonprofit, the other a business — have teamed up to ensure that deceased service members are honored during the 2021 holiday season.

Wreaths Across America at Old Town’s Ivy Hill Cemetery has received a donation of 138 balsam wreaths for veterans’ graves from Mission BBQ at Laurel Towne Centre. Representatives from both gathered at the restaurant on April 22 for a brief ceremony in honor of the partnership.

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“Thank you, Mission BBQ and customers,” said Lisa Wright, who coordinates Wreaths Across America at Ivy Hill. She presented a certificate of appreciation to Autumn Justus, Mission BBQ Laurel’s community ambassador, and Juan Molina, general manager.

The popular restaurant, which champions those in the military and first responders, also received a citation and challenge coin from Mayor Craig Moe. Ivy Hill Cemetery President Bill Watts also attended.

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The wreath donation was made possible through sales of Mission BBQ’s American Heroes Cup. The cups sell for $3.99, with $2 of each sale donated to a charity supporting those in the military and first responders. The Laurel restaurant was one of 91 locations in 16 states to choose sponsoring veterans’ wreaths as its charity of choice this year. Nationally, Mission BBQ donated $362,320 to Wreaths Across America. Ivy Hill Cemetery was one of 71 Wreaths Across America sites selected to receive the wreath donations.

Justus and Molina said the restaurant was honored to participate in the Wreaths Across America campaign, which began in Laurel in 2017. The initiative has proved popular, with dozens of volunteers turning out to help lay wreaths or attend a ceremony honoring veterans.

From left, Laurel Mayor Craig Moe, Ivy Hill Cemetery President Bill Watts, Wreaths Across America Coordinator Lisa Wright, and Mission BBQ employees Autumn Justus and Juan Molina pose at the Laurel Towne Centre restaurant on April 22 after celebrating a donation of wreaths by Mission BBQ to Wreaths Across America at Ivy Hill.
From left, Laurel Mayor Craig Moe, Ivy Hill Cemetery President Bill Watts, Wreaths Across America Coordinator Lisa Wright, and Mission BBQ employees Autumn Justus and Juan Molina pose at the Laurel Towne Centre restaurant on April 22 after celebrating a donation of wreaths by Mission BBQ to Wreaths Across America at Ivy Hill. (Mary Schneidau Sullivan / HANDOUT)

Though the 2020 ceremony was curtailed because of the pandemic, Wright pressed ahead with the wreath laying and is looking forward to a more normal initiative in December 2021. She said the Mission BBQ donation will pay for about half of the wreaths needed to cover the graves all the veterans buried at Ivy Hill Cemetery.

Moe also had words of praise for Wright’s work on behalf of Wreaths Across America.

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“She brought this to all of Laurel, and it’s one of the best programs we have,” Moe said. “It brings the whole community together.”

For more information on Wreaths Across America, contact Wright at waaivyhill@gmail.com.

Pallotti Early Learning Center at St. Mary of the Mills, 800 Main St., will hold an Open House from 10 a.m. to noon May 22 (adults only). Registration information for the 2021-22 preschool programs will be shared at this time. Spaces are available in the 2-, 3- and 4-year-old programs. Please be sure to sign up online to reserve a spot at the Open House at signupgenius.com. For any inquiries, please call 301-776-6471.

The Laurel Historical Society will host a webinar about Howard County’s Guilford Quarry Cemetery at 7 p.m. May 6. Wayne David of the Friends of the Guilford Industrial District will discuss the research and archaeology at the cemetery. The historical society will celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month at 7 p.m. May 27 with a webinar about Laurel’s Jewish history, including Main Street businesses and the founding of Oseh Shalom Synagogue. Both webinars require registration, which can be completed online at laurelhistoricalsociety.org.

The city of Laurel has released its summer activity guide, complete with information regarding city pools, summer camp and adult classes. To learn more or view the whole guide, go to cityoflaurel.org.

Contact Old Town columnist Mary Sullivan at marysullivan84@gmail.com.

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