Jones, 93, to organize Wreaths Across America one more time

Donations needed for annual event at Keystone Heights Cemetery

By Wesley LeBlanc
Posted 11/4/20

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – This will be the last year Joan Jones will organize a Wreaths Across America ceremony in the city’s cemetery.

Jones, 93, has been the woman behind the city’s annual …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?


Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.

Non-subscribers

Click here to see your options for subscribing.

Single day pass

You also have the option of purchasing 24 hours of access, for $1.00. Click here to purchase a single day pass.

Jones, 93, to organize Wreaths Across America one more time

Donations needed for annual event at Keystone Heights Cemetery

Posted

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – This will be the last year Joan Jones will organize a Wreaths Across America ceremony in the city’s cemetery.

Jones, 93, has been the woman behind the city’s annual Wreaths Across America event for 10 years. It’s been her way of showing her lifelong gratitude for veterans and soldiers who gave it all for her right to live free in America. It’s been her way of saying thank you, but with health complications she now lives with, she’s ready to pass the baton to somebody else.

“I’m going to do it this year, one last time, but I’m teaching someone else to do it,” Jones said. “It makes me sad – I would do this for the rest of my life if I could – but I just can’t anymore, so I’m working with someone to make sure it’s in good hands next year and the years after that.”

That someone will be Clay County School Board member Tina Bullock, who represents Keystone Heights on the school board and has served the community for years.

“I met Joan through Wreaths Across America and I was so impressed with her dedication and passion to veterans,” Bullock said. “I just feel like it’s such a worthy cause and there’s a great turnout every year so I was honored when she asked me to help out this year and take over the next. I don’t know if I’ll do as great a job as Joan, but I’m going to do my best for her.”

Jones was hoping she’d be able to ride out in the sunset with ease for this year’s ceremony, but 2020 has other plans. She said it’s been a struggle getting donations in for wreaths because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Jones personally calls people to ask for donations to purchase wreaths that are placed on veteran gravesites at the Keystone Heights cemetery.

She said she’s 300 to 400 wreaths behind from where she’d like to be at this point, and there’s not much time left. She’s only taking donations until Nov. 15 and is asking the community to consider a small donation to help her reach her goal, one last time. It’s $15 for a single wreath or $30 for three wreaths, due to a buy-two-get-one-free deal she runs.

She said she can be called at (352) 473-7281 for more information or an over-the-phone donation. Checks can be mailed to her address at 6030 Blueberry Hill Road in Keystone Heights. Checks must be written out to Wreaths Across America with the location number, “FLKHMG” and the word “fundraiser” accompanies by, “FL0217.”

For those who haven’t attended one of Jones annual ceremonies, it’s a beautiful event filled with love, care and appreciation for fallen soldiers. All branches of the military are represented and there’s always a special veteran speaker. This year’s speaker is current-county commissioner Gayward Hendry.

Jones also likes to have a former Prisoner of War speak, but she said she’s still looking for one to speak at the event this year.

She’s also looking for volunteers to help make this event the best one yet, despite COVID-19 efforts to change things up on her. Family members can sit together, but each family must be 6 feet apart and everyone needs to bring their own chair. Coffee and donuts will be served at 9:30 a.m. for early audience members and volunteers, courtesy of the AMVETS 86 auxiliary, and finger foods will be served by that auxiliary at their post in the city after the ceremony, which begins at noon on Dec. 19.

“It’s been really tough this year,” Jones said on grappling with this year being her last with Wreaths Across America and having to ask people for money in a tough financial year. “Many people aren’t working and it’s hard to expect people to want to pay money so I just hope that in this final stretch, some more fortunate people will pull through.

“This has truly been the greatest part of my life, doing this for veterans every year. I wish I could keep going, but it’s time for someone else to do it. I’ll be in the crowd watching, though, if I can.”

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment