Veteran’s Day may be long over but, if Bay Ridge-based non-profit Viking Love NYC has anything to say about it, that spirit of thanks will last well into the holiday season.
Members of the group gathered on Saturday, December 13 at Jamaica Avenue’s Cypress Hills National Cemetery – a burial site originally established to honor Civil War veterans – to lay wreaths in conjunction with Wreaths Across America for soldiers Viking Love Vice President Jason McDermott says are often forgotten by the growing event, currently in its 22nd year.
“It was amazing,” lauded McDermott, adding that more than 1,000 wreaths were raised this year, more than 10 times as many as last year. “There are more than 18,000 soldiers buried there, 24 of them with Medals of Honor, so we’re by no means finished but we’re definitely making an improvement.”
According to McDermott, Viking Love members were inspired by Jose Martinez, Wreaths across America coordinator at Cypress Hills, who warned the group last year that the Brooklyn site wasn’t seeing nearly as much support as big-name sites like Arlington National Cemetery in D.C.
“Last year, we told him we’d be back with more,” he said, “and he was just so happy. It was so great to see his face. He was totally excited – and the fact that we were able to keep a promise we made was just amazing.”
McDermott attributes a majority of the group’s fundraising success (and good spirit) to buddy and Viking Love member Danny Corbett.
“He won’t want the credit but he deserves it,” McDermott said. “This whole thing was Danny’s idea last year. It was his vision to take this small idea and make a major difference.”
Oh, what a difference they made.
This year’s fundraising efforts saw the involvement of over 15 businesses, two American Legions, two Knights of Columbus chapters, fellow organizations like Bay Ridge Cares, and more. Viking Love NYC even pulled in more than $1,300 in donations following the organization’s first-ever musical fundraiser for Wreaths across America, held on Sunday, November 30 at The Leif Bar (6725 Fifth Avenue).
“Every year is a learning experience,” McDermott said, “and it’s definitely going to be an annual thing. It’s just a great cause.”
For more information on Wreaths across America or Viking Love NYC, visit vikinglovenyc.org, or wreathsacrossamerica.org.