At Wreaths Across America, we're often asked, "How do you honor over a million veterans and their families during the holidays?" Our answer is always, "It's our volunteers who drive the mission and build the organization."

The Wreaths Across America family of volunteers throughout the nation and overseas represent a grassroots effort fueled by patriotism and respect for those who have served our nation past and present. These volunteers work every year to express their gratitude by raising funds to sponsor fresh, hand-made balsam fir remembrance wreaths.

The power of the circular wreath with a single red bow unites people in a common cause to remember, honor, and teach.

Rebecca Turcotte is a member of the Patriot Riders of America, Chapter 3 located in Maine. The group's Facebook page describes their club's mission (in part). "Patriot Riders of America major functions are to help all American Veterans; people in our communities; encourage rider participation in events, and to promote motorcycle safety. We support the Constitution of the United States and the right to freedom." Membership is made up of veterans, non-veterans, women, men, and junior members as well. While the group consists of motorcycle enthusiasts, it's open to anyone "caged" as well.

"We have a dedicated group of compassionate people who come together to help military veterans," Rebecca explains. "If someone reaches out to us and says 'hey we need help getting a veteran's roof shingled' then we try to get it done. We're just a volunteer group that works from our hearts but we all have different skills, and we try to put them to use as a team. I'm very proud of this group and what we've been able to do to support veterans, and if we can't, we help them find an organization that can assist."

Some of the chapter's other efforts have been to build a ramp for a World War II veteran's home, and they support the Summit Project in Maine as well.

Rebecca's love and respect for the military come naturally through her families service and sacrifices. Her husband Jim served in the Air Force, her father, Harold Pitman, served in World War II and her brother, Gilbert Bell, Jr. served in the United States Army and was killed in Vietnam in 1968 when she was a young girl.

Rebecca and fellow members of the chapter recently visited the Wreaths Across America Museum and Headquarters in Columbia Falls, Maine. A tour of the tip land allowed them to visit the dedicated section of the Patriot Riders of America and the other monuments while placing replica dog tags for some of their fallen heroes as part of the Stem to Stone program.

"It was the most memorable thing for me, and I'll never forget that experience for the rest of my life. We didn't realize there was a museum and tree-tagging program, so we want to spread the awareness."

Rebecca shares some of the photos from their visit.

"We've always supported Wreaths Across America every December and have been there to place the wreaths," Becky proudly states. "We have donation cans out, and we place them in area businesses. One of our members, Stephanie Lizzotte, numbers the cans and keeps track of them every month and carefully logs the money and so forth."

The chapter raises money to cover veteran's headstones at cemeteries in Augusta, Maine. "We discovered there just aren't enough wreaths to cover all the veterans grave sites."

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"I believe, and I know the group does too that we are one country. These men and women fought for us and in some instances laid down their lives for us. Everyone should ask themselves what can we do for their families. We all have family members who have served, and this is our way to show them love and respect."

The Countdown to Wreath Day 2017 is on, and we're sharing the stories of our volunteers like Rebecca and the Patriot Riders of America as they work tirelessly to remember, honor, and teach.

 

 

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