For Veterans Day, Wreaths Across America uses technology to fulfill their mission
Wreaths Across America (WAA) is the nonprofit organization best known for placing veterans’ wreaths on the headstones of our nation’s fallen at Arlington National Cemetery. However, today the organization, in total, places more than 2 million sponsored veterans’ wreaths at over 2,200 participating locations nationwide. In order to achieve this mission, in this challenging year, the organization had to be open to new approaches and partnered with generous organizations willing to share new technologies while helping achieve our ultimate goal of fulfilling the mission to Remember, Honor, and Teach in part by placing veterans’ wreaths at the headstones of all fallen U.S. service members. Wreaths Across America’s existing website capabilities allow for customized fundraising pages for Participating Locations and Sponsorship Groups, providing real-time information to donors and volunteers across the country. In addition, the nonprofit has focused efforts on other owned-media channels, including Wreaths Across America Radio, an Internet radio station bringing you a mix of music, interviews and entertainment designed to uplift the American spirit during these challenging times and to promote our mission to remember, honor and teach about America’s veterans. Expanding on the Teach aspect of the mission, WAA’s Mobile Education Exhibit hit the road early this summer. This traveling learning experience helps live the mission to remember, honor, and teach. The expanding internal movie theater and interactive learning displays help remember the sacrifices our nation’s heroes, honor living veterans and teach future generations about the price of freedom. In the past two years, by partnering with AT&T veterans, WAA has been able to offer a pilot “Text to Donate” program that is allowing donors in several states to sponsor a veteran’s wreath for a family member or loved one from the comfort and safety of their own home. By texting 20222 and a corresponding text code specific to an area cemetery, a contribution can be made over the donor’s phone no matter who is their primary service carrier. All mobile users can obtain a tax receipt for donations made via text message by visiting: http://mobilegiving.org/tax-receipt/. Although the use of social media has been around for some time and become a business mainstay of building a community of supporters, virtual events have also become the norm this year as many live events have had to be transformed from their original live format. These virtual events have allowed us to share a once regional concert, with our entire supporter base, removed 5K races from the bounds of a set course, offered mothers homeschooling their children the chance to share in a pledge of allegiance with their children, and expanded a local flag waving effort to the entire nation. Some of these efforts have even spawned the need for their own new technology approaches. For example, WAA’s race partner CompetitorME began utilizing an App, called RaceJoy, to help track runners and share vital information while participating in a virtual race. And while most theater chains were trying to figure out the business of survival amidst a pandemic Showcase Cinemas made community service a priority by lifting the virtual concert from the pages of Facebook to add it to their newly launched streaming service called Showcase NOW. As you can see, no one change is helping make it through rough times. However, utilizing technology to make many small changes is helping WAA continue toward its goal of honoring and remembering as many United States service members as possible nationwide this National Wreaths Across America Day — Saturday, Dec. 19. However, there’s still more ways to help and it doesn’t have a touch screen or hi-def display…. It’s you! You can sponsor a wreath for $15 at https://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/. Each sponsorship goes toward a fresh balsam veteran’s wreath that will be placed on the headstone of an American hero as we endeavor to honor all veterans laid to rest on Saturday, Dec. 19, as part of National Wreaths Across America Day. You can text WREATH22 to 20222 to sponsor a wreath for Arlington National Cemetery right from your phone.