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Valley Center community rallies to save Christmas tradition for military families at cemetery

Posted at 4:58 PM, Dec 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-24 21:16:11-05

VALLEY CENTER, Calif. (KGTV) — A week after a cancellation of a holiday tradition at a cemetery in Valley Center, a community wrapped up their campaign to save Christmas for many military families.

Because of COVID-related issues, the nonprofit that places more than 300 Christmas wreaths at military grave markers at Valley Center Cemetery announced Friday it wouldn't be able to this year.

"I just felt defeated ... My heart dropped," said Jenelle Brinemann.

Brinemann, a local florist, decided to post on Facebook a call for donations to make wreath sprays, a smaller version of wreaths.

"It shows we have Christmas spirit still, even during this hard time," said Brinemann.

A day later, her driveway was filled was with donated cedar, pine, and ribbons. More than 50 volunteers signed up to help assemble. Kids sent messages to attach to the sprays and on Wednesday, the project was completed.

"Great way for the town to come together ... shows there's still love in the world," said Brinemann.

Among those who stepped up were members of the Green Knights Military Motorcycle Club, who saw our story on the wreath campaign, and volunteered their services.

On this day, they escorted the volunteers to the cemetery.

"We felt we had to help them, because it was the right thing to do. We have to honor our veterans that have gone before us," said club member Tyler Nelson.

"It was overwhelming. The whole neighborhood turned out, cheering. They had posters. Best Christmas present someone could receive," said Brinemann.

At the cemetery, Brinemann and seven others quietly placed the wreath sprays at 311 grave markers.

"The cemetery just looks like how it should be now," said Brinemann.