The Union Democrat
Honoring fallen heroes
Tuolumne County teens raise funds to place wreaths on veterans’ gravestones
Atrio of Sonora-based teens who are active with their 4-H club are planning to stage a fundraiser this weekend to finance a project honoring military veterans by placing wreaths on more than 350 graves at Carter’s Cemetery in the township of Tuolumne.
Jessica Reibin, 14, who attends Sonora High School, is working with Kiera Danicourt, 14, and Christyannah Danicourt, 17, who both do independent study through Gold Rush Charter School.
“There are people out there who honor veterans,” Reibin said in an interview Wednesday. “It’s a good idea to lay wreaths on veterans’ graves, to show their families and the public they will always be remembered.”
Reibin said she is motivated in part because she wants to honor a family friend, U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Travis R. Desiato of Bedford, Massachusetts, who died at age 19 in Iraq in November 2004.
The Danicourt sisters said Wednesday they have uncles, grandparents and great-grandparents who served in the military, and seven of their forebears — all military veterans — are buried at Mountain Shadow Cemetery off Lyons Bald Mountain Road.
In December 2019, Reibin and the Danicourts did a Christmas wreath sale as members of the Tuolumne County Hi 4-H Club and had about 20 wreaths left over.
“So we decided we wanted to lay the leftover wreaths at Carter’s,” Kiera Danicourt said. “We chose Carter’s Cemetery because it’s one of the oldest cemeteries in the area. And when we took the wreaths there, after we laid out the 20 wreaths, we had about 10 cedar garlands left over, and we took them apart and made more wreaths.”
Christyannah Danicourt added, “We realized as we lay down the cedar garlands that there are a lot more veterans’ graves at Carter’s.”
So last year, in November and December 2020, Reibin and the Danicourts teamed up with Wreaths Across America — a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization based in Maine
— to continue trying to honor military veterans. Together, the youngsters laid 351 wreaths on veterans’ graves last year at Carter’s Cemetery.
The national nonprofit organization Wreaths Across America was founded in 2007 by Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine.
Reibin, now a local coordinator for Wreaths Across America, contacted The Union Democrat this week to say she was worried because they’re far from their goal of 351 wreaths to honor all of the fallen veterans at Carter’s Cemetery.
They had recruited sponsors for 40 wreaths as of 5 p.m. Thursday, according to a web page devoted to the Tuolumne County youngsters’ efforts.
The girls’ moms, Kati Reibin and De Danicourt, said Wednesday the teens are planning to hold a fundraiser outside the Tractor Supply Co., 14879 Mono Way, Sonora, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
They will have a booth set up and hope to educate people about their goal and Wreaths Across America to recruit more sponsors for individual wreaths to be placed on veterans’ graves at Carter’s Cemetery.
Minimum donations they hope for are $15 each, to cover the cost of creating and shipping one wreath. All sponsorships and donations Reibin and the Danicourts collect Saturday will go toward their goal of laying at least 351 wreaths at Carter’s Cemetery on Dec. 18.
For more information about Reibin and the Danicourts, their efforts to honor military veterans, and Wreaths Across America, visit www. wreathsacrossamerica. org/pages/166003 on
line or call the Reibins at (209) 588-6937.