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Power of Our People

A Leader of Kind Strangers

Wreaths Across America program flourishes in Texas thanks to Ellen Fuller’s exuberance

It’s hard to keep up with Ellen Fuller. “I’m a serial volunteer,” she says, and her fast-paced conversation and exuberant attitude make it easy to believe she devotes boundless enthusiasm to any cause she might undertake.

These days, Fuller focuses her abundant energy on Wreaths Across America, a nationwide organization that places holiday wreaths on veterans’ graves. In 2018, with Fuller as co-chair of the statewide effort, WAA collaborated with 674 groups to place 160,000 wreaths on almost one-third of veterans’ graves across Texas, as featured in TCP in November 2018.

Fuller now serves as treasurer on WAA’s national board.

“My dad passed in 2011,” she says, “and he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. I visited his grave in December 2011 and wondered what kind stranger had placed a wreath on his grave.”

The kind stranger was a volunteer with Wreaths Across America, an effort started in 1992 when Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, placed extra holiday wreaths to honor those buried at Arlington. That effort evolved into the Arlington Wreath Project and ultimately into Wreaths Across America.

If you’re wondering what a holiday-focused organization does year-round, bear in mind that WAA’s reach in Texas has grown 30%—from 86 cemeteries in 2017 to 112 in 2018 and more for 2019. Because wreath day in 2019 is December 14, Fuller and crew will not stop counting until the very last day. Their motto is, “Any vet. Anywhere.”

Besides, as Fuller, a customer of Bryan Texas Utilities, says, “Any day is a good day to thank a veteran.”

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