Thanks to an overwhelming response from the community, this holiday season Wreaths Across America will continue to honor Tehachapi's fallen veterans who have paid the ultimate price.
Like so many annual events in Tehachapi, Wreaths Across America was in danger of going dark this year due to a lack of funding.
In August, Jim Jacobs, coordinator for Tehachapi, announced that the laying of the wreaths on the headstones of our nation's war heroes at local cemeteries would not take place in December as is tradition after key sponsors had to take a bow this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"In the past, it has been extremely difficult," Jacobs said of his fundraising efforts. "Because of the corona(virus), the pandemic and people loosing their jobs, they just didn't have the extra cash. Most of the donations that we received were from companies."
In other words, COVID-19 not only took a bite out of our population's health — it is also eating away at our wallets.
Since making the announcement, Jacobs said that a local business has stepped up and took over the fundraising for this year's wreath ceremony, putting things back on track.
During a telephone interview on Sept. 23, Jacobs said Air Tight Heating and Air/5150 Dieselz will continue to collect donations at their business location at 20021 W. Valley Blvd., Suite B, through Dec. 1.
"They are doing all of my fundraising, and have raised a little over $2,000, and I have raised a little over $1,000, so we are almost halfway there," Jacobs said of the $7,000 goal necessary to decorate the graves of nearly 500 war dead in Tehachapi.
Jacobs said an evening ceremony will be held for a third year in a row at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18, at the Freedom Plaza in downtown Tehachapi. The public is invited.
The following morning, the Wreaths Across America ceremony will commence at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 19, at Westside Cemetery. A second ceremony will be held following at the Eastside Cemetery. Volunteers are welcome to come out and help lay the wreaths and contribute to the cause.
"This ceremony is in conjunction with every other cemetery in America," Jacobs said.
Donations can be made three ways:
1) At wreathsacrossamerica.org;
2) In person at 20021 W. Valley Blvd., Suite B; or
3) By contacting Jim Jacobs via email at email@example.com
All donations made via the website for Tehachapi stay in Tehachapi, and are tax deductible.
"It warms my heart. It shows me that the community cares about the veterans, and these are our veterans: our aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, cousins, moms, dads. We need to assure that are veterans are taken care of. Our mission statement is to Remember, Honor and Teach. If we don't remember, we don't honor and we don't teach," Jacobs said.
The American Legion Post 221 is an avid sponsor of the wreath program each year.
"This is something that is near and dear to my heart and to many of the members' hearts," said Cmdr. Kevin Davey. "We are grateful to have Jim do this for our community."
Davey said he was relieved to hear that Wreaths Across America will move forward this year, thanks to many.
Said Davey, "In the climate of today, and the culture... we need to keep focused on the things that we do and not get distracted by everything that is going on."