SOUTHWICK-Southwick Regional School students, led by senior Clare Hanna, are setting their sights on surpassing last year’s fundraising efforts for the nonprofit organization Wreaths Across America with a drive-in movie night slated Nov. 19.
“As the Wreaths Across America Southwick Regional School (SRS) group, we raised over $3,000 last year which in turn allowed us to purchase over 200 wreaths,” said Michael A. Pescitelli, assistant principal, SRS. “Our goal this year is to at least match the amount we raised last year.”
Wreaths Across America, founded by Morrill Worcester of Maine, has its roots from a trip he made as a youth to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. Worcester, owner of the Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, never forgot the experience and it reminded him often that his good fortune in business was due, in large part, to “the values of this nation and the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.”
In 1992, when Worcester had a surplus of wreaths nearing the holiday season, he made arrangements for the wreaths to be placed at Arlington in one of the older sections of the cemetery that had been receiving fewer visitors with each passing year.
As the word spread about the effort over the years, the U.S. Congress unanimously voted Dec. 13, 2008 as “Wreaths Across America Day.” The wreath-laying is conducted annually, on the second or third Saturday of December, and Worcester’s annual pilgrimage from Harrington, Maine to Arlington has become known as the world’s largest veterans’ parade, stopping at schools, monuments, veterans’ homes and communities all along the way to remind people “how important it is to remember, honor and teach.”
Pescitelli noted the students “are committed to honoring our veterans.”
Pescitelli added the SRS group is hoping “at least” 175 families will attend this event which is slated at the Motocross track. Gates open at 5:30 and concessions will be offered. The Motocross track area can accommodate 200 cars for the movie night.
The first movie showing is “Polar Express,” which will end about 7:30 p.m., and the second movie, “Home Alone,” begins at 8.
“There is not a rain or snow date for the event scheduled,” said Pescitelli. “We will hold the event if there is inclement weather.”
As part of the festivities during the evening, an ugly sweater contest is also planned.
“Participants will walk outside, socially distant and masks worn to display their sweaters,” said Pescitelli. “Families and attendees will then have the opportunity to vote for the winner.”
The winner of the ugly sweater contest will receive a $25 Big Y certificate.
Tiffany Jacquier, président for the Powder Mill and Woodland Schools PTO (PAWS PTO), said they have also joined the effort for the movie night.
“This is the first time that the PTO has lended a hand to SRS to make a community wide event to fundraise for a singular cause,” said Jacquier. “It is not the first time Powder Mill has contributed to this cause, and Woodland had participated in the gathering of supplies for troops in years past.”
The PAWS PTO will be selling “movie baskets” for $15 filled with four small waters, two packs of candy, and four individual bags of popcorn.
“We are encouraging all families to plan ahead and purchase tickets because we are unable to guarantee there will be available space,” said Pescitelli.
Admission for each car is $25 and movie baskets can be ordered at the same time by visiting http://pawsptoswk.weebly.com/wreaths-across-america.html.
Pescitelli noted that for persons who do not have access to a computer, an opportunity to purchase tickets will be made available.
“Clare Hanna is organizing the selling of the tickets,” said Pescitelli, noting that inquiries can be made by sending an email to [email protected].
As students, school officials and parents work together on this fundraiser, Jacquier noted this type of event can bring a “whole district together.”
“During this time, community is our focus,” said Jacquier. “Our mission as a PTO is generally to help our students and our school community. During this time, community is our focus. The students spearheading this fundraising event have come through our schools in years past, and they have been students that have graciously volunteered their time to support our events. To support their efforts while having a fun, safe and community centric event was something that we believed to be a great way to give back.”