PORTLAND, Maine — For the third consecutive year, Oakhurst, northern New England’s largest independent family-owned dairy company, will donate transportation services to Wreaths Across America and help deliver what is expected to be more than 100,000 wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday, Dec.14.
Additionally, the company has proposed to lay wreaths for up to 50 New England families at their loved one’s graves during the ceremony at Arlington. Wreaths Across America is a Maine-based non-profit that coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington and 900 locations nationwide on National Wreaths Across America Day each December in support of its mission to Remember, Honor and Teach.
“Oakhurst’s enthusiasm for Wreaths Across America and its mission, and companies and supporters like them, are the reason we are successful,” said Karen Worcester, executive director, Wreaths Across America, in a press release. “In addition to providing invaluable transportation services, their commitment also includes employee volunteers who will participate in the laying of the wreaths at Arlington. It is a simple gesture that means so much to the families of fallen soldiers.”
To make the 750-mile, one-week pilgrimage from Maine to Arlington National Cemetery, Oakhurst has selected Joe Masse of Springvale to drive its Wreaths Across America truck. Masse, a Route Sales Driver for Oakhurst has been with the company for 37 years. His grandson Parker Eckert will ride with him from Harrington, to Portland on the first day of the annual journey, and then his girlfriend Heidi Kleiner from Brunswick will join him for the remainder of the trip.
Masse had this to say about the upcoming journey: “This is an opportunity to participate in something meaningful and good. It is an honor to be a part of it and I hope to have the opportunity to place a wreath for someone from my hometown.”
Masse and other Oakhurst employees attending the National Wreaths Across America Ceremony plan to personally honor up to 50 fallen Maine and New Hampshire veterans by placing wreaths at their graves at Arlington National Cemetery. Oakhurst has established a Veterans Remembrance Wreath Memorial initiative in support of the WAA mission. Oakhurst plans to donate up to 50 Maine-made wreaths through Wreaths Across America and transport them along with the thousands of wreaths it will carry in its truck to Arlington National Cemetery. Oakhurst employees will personally place each of the 50 wreaths for the selected New England families. A photograph of the wreath on each headstone will be taken and posted on Oakhurst’s website. New England families interested in requesting one of the 50 Veterans Remembrance Wreaths should visit www.oakhurstdairy.com/waa and complete the request form by December 3, 2013.
As part of the company’s continuing sponsorship, Oakhurst has created a dedicated trailer design that is used in daily business operations to honor the WAA mission. And because the trip to Arlington is so memorable, Oakhurst’s Information Services Team developed and integrated technology last year that allows its employees, customers and the general public to experience the journey as if they were inside the cab. Live video during the 750-mile drive to Arlington will be available via a dedicated website: http://waa.oakhurstdairy.com/. Images and media will be also posted to the company’s Natural Goodness blog and its Facebook page.
“We are honored to support Wreaths Across America again this year in its annual effort to honor the many fallen heroes and their families who have sacrificed so much in defense of our country’s freedom,” said Paul Connolly, Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Oakhurst Dairy. “We are thrilled to have Joe Masse represent us on the journey — he has an impeccable safety record and is one of our longest-term drivers.”
Connolly continued: “We are also excited to sponsor and personally lay up to 50 wreaths for our New England families. I have had the opportunity to help place wreaths the last two years and that is truly a moving experience. As a company, we wanted to try to share that with families who are not able to make the journey. Placing wreaths at the request of our New England families will be a very special honor and privilege. We also want to thank Morrill and Karen Worcester for their dedication to this important mission.”
The wreath-laying effort began in 1992 when Morrill Worcester of Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine, donated 5,000 evergreen wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery. In 2007, the national non-profit organization, Wreaths Across America was founded. Today, the annual weeklong pilgrimage from Maine to Arlington National Cemetery is known as the world’s largest veterans parade. Wreaths Across America expects to place more than 100,000 wreaths at Arlington, distribute wreaths to nearly 900 locations across the United States, including 35 veterans cemeteries in Maine and New Hampshire, and overseas for ceremonies to honor America’s fallen soldiers and their families on National Wreaths Across America Day. In total, more than 400,000 wreaths will be delivered.
Visit the Oakhurst Dairy Facebook page to experience the journey: www.facebook.com/OakhurstDairy.
Individual wreath sponsorships are $15. To sponsor a wreath or make a donation visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.