Calling all kids: youth project helps kids learn about veterans

Published 5:23 pm Wednesday, April 12, 2023

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The nonprofit organization Wreaths Across America is gearing up for its 2023 edition of the Youth Service Project which is a part of the nonprofit’s year around TEACH program. This year’s project theme is to ‘Serve and Succeed.’

The organization continues to expand upon the annual wreath-laying ceremony held each December at the Arlington National Cemetery. Maine businessman Morrill Worcester created the idea in 1992. Wreaths Across America took over the program, expanding the premise as it continues to follow its mission statement – to Remember, Honor, Teach. The 501(c)(3) coordinates the ceremonies at Arlington and at thousands of veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond.

The organization has expanded its reach to involve kids, encouraging young people of all ages and grade levels to develop, organize and execute a community service project that touches vets or others within their local communities.

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Those who successfully complete the Serve and Succeed Project of their choosing will receive a certificate of community service award and commemorative bracelet. Every participant will be entered into a random drawing to visit the National Wreaths Across America Museum and the Gold Star History and Hospitality House. Winners of the random drawing will also get the chance to visit the tip land monuments where the dog tags from thousands of service men and women are hung in remembrance.

The project deadline is Nov. 11.

Wreathes Across America isn’t just a one-off program. Throughout each year, its TEACH program provides educational opportunities for people across the nation to engage with local veterans. Just last year, program supporters made it possible for the nonprofit to launch a K-12 curriculum aligned with the National Council on Social Studies and state Common Core standards. The lesson plans are free and downloadable providing stories of service, sacrifice and valor that can be passed down to future generations. The lessons are meant to build good character and self-worth in kids via service to others.

The organization also launched its first Youth Service Project that allowed students to participate in a “gathering” of oral history through interviewing veterans about their military service.

The winner of this first contest, randomly selected from among the participants, was recently chosen and will be publicly acknowledged during the annual Stem to Stone event held in Maine each summer.

“Teaching younger generations the value of freedom and the importance of honoring those who sacrificed is a core part of our mission,” said Cindy Tatum, Wreaths Across America/TEACH Curriculum Developer and Gold Star Mother. “But we want our young people to know you do not have to be in the military to serve. The WAA 2023 Youth Service Project encourages America’s youth to create, develop and execute a community service project that will benefit Veterans or others in their local community or the global community. No act of service is too small, and we look forward to the impactful projects students will submit.”

To learn more about the TEACH program and participate in the service project log onto: