A double row of holiday wreaths are displayed on a short wooden railing facing Route 1 at Depot Street in Waldoboro. More wreaths fill a nearby trailer. A couple of folding tables are arrayed with whoopie pies, banana breads, candy and cookies. There are trays of freshly-baked yeast rolls, ready to eat or easy to freeze.
The bounty of evergreens and baked goods will be available during the American Legion Auxiliary’s veterans’ wreath sale from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays into December. Members of the auxiliary will continue to bring fresh cakes, breads and cookies each weekend until all the wreaths are sold. The auxiliary hopes to raise at least $500 from the wreath sale.
Sisters Judy Gallant and Sherry Gallace are the president and vice president of the American Legion Auxiliary, Unit 149, associated with the Charles C. Lilly post in Waldoboro. The pair is dedicated to finding ways to support their community from selling commemorative paper poppies on Memorial Day and Veterans Day to bottle drives and bake sales to sponsoring Thanksgiving baskets for veteran families.
All that fundraising is making an impact: The auxiliary raised $1,000 for Boothbay V.E.T.S. (Veterans Emergency Temporary Shelters) to support the building of trailers outfitted to provide short term safety and comfort to homeless veterans awaiting more permanent housing.
There’s a prototype of the temporary shelter on site at the wreath sale. The insulated trailer has the basic necessities: A bed, desk, chair, microwave, refrigerator, commode, a lock on the door, and most importantly, heat. There are several units already deployed in Maine at a cost of approximately $9,000 each.
The units do not have running water, and they require access to electricity, but they represent a viable stop gap measure that can provide some safety and comfort when it is most desperately needed by those who have served their country.
Amy Mcleod stopped by to pick up some treats. Her father fought in Vietnam and both of her grandfathers fought in World War II, one in Europe, the other in the Pacific theater.
A lot of vets need assistance, especially now with rents being so high, she said. She noted that many veterans have post traumatic stress disorder or disabilities that make their lives even harder and that buying baked goods, or investing in a wreath seems a small gesture to help the men and women who sacrificed so much.
“I think it’s lovely,” said Janette Small, who stopped by for an apple pie and some yeast rolls. She added an additional donation toward the cause. “They do wonderful work,” she said of the auxiliary. ”They’re go-getters, they really are – busy all the time doing something for the vets. More people should be doing it.”
Wanda Collamore dropped by to add a box of chocolate and peanut butter whoopie pies to the table, along with a number of miniature double chocolate cakes with peanut butter frosting. She said that programs like the V.E.T.S. trailer give those in need a place to go when they need help.
Otto Hunt, a veteran himself and a member of the American Legion stepped inside to inspect the trailer. He appreciated the amenities, the heat, and the ability to lock the door.
“I think it’s a wonderful project for our vets,” he said. “They really need it.”