SOUTH ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KMOV.com) - The annual Wreaths Across America tradition will continue to take place at cemeteries across the world this year, including at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.
Last year, more than 32,000 wreaths were laid at gravesites within the cemetery. However, organizers of this year's event said the number is lacking behind significantly.
"We're at about 5,000 wreaths that have been sponsored," said Kathy Schulte, who helps coordinate the event each year. "So, that's a difference of around 27,000 wreaths compared to last year."
Schulte said the organization expected a decrease in the number of wreaths being purchased, in part because of the pandemic. The 5,000 wreaths sponsored as of Sunday accounts for 10 percent of the organization's goal.
However, people have until November 30 to sponsor a wreath for $15.
Information on how to purchase a wreath or volunteer can be found here.
"It's utterly important to us to be able to honor those that have died for our freedoms," said Janelle Eveld, who works with Schulte to put on the event at Jefferson Barracks. "We have families from out-of-state that depend on volunteers placing a wreath at their loved one's resting place."
In a normal year, thousands of volunteers help place the wreaths at gravesites across the cemetery. This year, because of a combination of guidelines from St. Louis County and the National Cemetery Administration, only 10 people can be in one section at a time.
"That means we won't have any one section that's completely covered with wreaths this year," Eveld said. "So we're going to ask our volunteers to place those certain wreaths at specific graves and then randomly place wreaths around the cemetery to keep everyone safe."
Normally, the event takes place on a Saturday in December. To spread out the number of people inside the cemetery at one time, wreaths can be picked up and placed on December 16, 17 and 19.
The public ceremony included as part of the Wreaths Across America event is cancelled this year.