Florist picks up the slack with wreaths

Due to the ef­forts of a florist and res­i­dents, it ap­pears that Ox­ford will again honor fallen ser­vice per­son­nel.

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Chris Bar­ber cbar­ber@21st-cen­tu­ry­media. com

OX­FORD >> For eight years the Ox­ford Amer­i­can Le­gion has played host to Wreaths Across Amer­ica, the annual wreath-lay­ing cer­e­mony on fallen vet­er­ans’ graves in mid-De­cem­ber that con­cludes at Ar­ling­ton National Ceme­tery with wreath drop-offs along the way (in­clud­ing Ox­ford) from Maine. This year, how­ever, the project hit a snag, and there was fear among the Ox­ford area com­mu­nity that there would be no cer­e­mony in the town.

But thanks to the ef­forts of a lo­cal florist and a lot of con­cerned res­i­dents, it ap­pears that Ox­ford will again honor its fallen ser­vice per­son­nel with a solemn wreath lay­ing cer­e­mony on Dec. 17.

The glitch in the plans came to light last month when towns­peo­ple and Amer­i­can Le­gion mem­bers re­al­ized that the fundraiser that pays for the wreaths de­liv­ered by the national or­ga­ni­za­tion had fallen short. In fact, the town had raised only enough money for 150 wreaths, and there were 1,200 vet­er­ans buried at Ox­ford’s ceme­tery who were wor­thy of the honor of a wreath.

That up­set Vicki Robin­son and her staff at Philips Florist on Mar­ket Street, and they de­cided to do some­thing about it.

They first spread the word that they needed to make about 1,200 more wreaths, and they asked for com­mu­nity sup­port.

For­tu­nately for them, the re­sponse was over­whelm­ing.

The first project they had was a day of bow-ty­ing.

They in­vited vol­un­teers in to their build­ing and they had peo­ple tie red vel­vet bows — scores of them.

Em­ployee Michelle Sapp said they were able to ob­tain the vel­vet ma­te­rial for next to noth­ing, and the project on that Satur­day yielded a huge pile. “Some of the peo­ple were afraid their bows would not look good, but we told them they would wel­come al­most any style of ty­ing,” she said.

Then came the need for the greens.

Sapp said they did not be­lieve they were ca­pa­ble of mak­ing wreaths, so they de­cided to cre­ate 12-inch swags.

Again they gave a call out to the com­mu­nity and were re­warded with vol­un­teers of­fer­ing greens from Christ­mas tree farms and left over ugly trees from tree sales.

“They told us ‘If you can pro­vide the trans­port, you can have as many as you want,’” she said.

That worked for them, and they have the swag mak­ing event sched­uled for the week of Dec. 10.

“We have sign-up sheets. Ev­ery swag will be dif­fer­ent,” Sapp said.

Mean­while, there was the ques­tion of the cer­e­mony, which in pre­vi­ous years in­volved the lay­ing of a cer­e­mo­nial wreath by a mem­ber of each of the armed ser­vices, fol­lowed by dis­tri­bu­tion to all the graves by scouts and other vol­un­teers.

Again, it ap­peared the plans for the Dec. 17 cer­e­mony were not in place.

Bor­ough coun­cil and Amer­i­can Le­gion mem­ber John Thomp­son said they are not sure if this will play out as it has in the past. A meet­ing was sched­uled for Nov. 22 to get things or­ga­nized.

Plans for de­tails will be made pub­lic af­ter that, Thomp­son said.

In pre­vi­ous years, the Ch­ester County Sher­iff’s De­part­ment and the Amer­i­can Le­gion or­ga­nized the event, sup­ported heav­ily by var­i­ous mo­tor­cy­cle groups. In the past, the ser­vice be­gan at Sa­cred Heart Church and then con­tin­ued into the ad­ja­cent ceme­tery.

Even with plans not com­pleted, Sapp was op­ti­mistic about the even­tual out­come.

“There’s no way we’re not go­ing to be able to make this hap­pen,” she said.


Philips Florist em­ploy­ees Jen­nifer Lewis and Michelle Sapp sit among the 1,200 rib­bons that were cre­ated by vol­un­teers for the planned cer­e­mony hon­or­ing fallen armed ser­vice per­son­nel.

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