By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – A caravan of vehicles bearing Christmas wreaths is making its way from Maine to Washington, D.C. this week. Nine tractor-trailers are loaded with close to 100,000 small green wreaths, each tied with a red ribbon. It is the work of a non-profit Maine-based group called Wreaths Across America.

When the group began its work in 1992, volunteers placed wreaths at gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. Since then, the organization has grown tremendously and it now helps wreaths make it to 909 cemeteries nationwide. That’s a total of close to 550,000 wreaths, according to the group’s executive director, Karen Worcester.

“We have amazing people traveling with us on the convoy,” Worcester says.

On Monday night, the convoy stopped over at the Topsfield Fair Grounds to give drivers a break, to thank volunteers, and to get ready for the emotional ceremonies that will take place on Saturday.

“When we go to Arlington,” Worcester explains, “we place the wreath and we speak the name of somebody’s loved one. It’s the least we can do.”

But this year, donations to Arlington were way down. Typically, people sponsor a wreath by donating money to the charity. Worcester thinks that so many people focused on their local cemeteries this year, donations to Arlington fell off.

They hit the road this year between 10,000 and 20,000 wreaths shy of their goal. Still, volunteers are optimistic.

“It’s not about just laying a wreath at Arlington, it’s about paying respect,” says Barbara Benard, a Gold Star Mother whose son, Sgt. 1st class Brent Adams, was killed in Iraq eight years ago.

Benard has made the trip for the past three years “to represent all the moms who can’t go to Arlington,” she explains.

Even though Wreaths Across America didn’t hit its goal, they’re still optimistic.

“They are down, but I keep hearing that they’re getting more,” Benard says. “I mean, they’re still loading trucks. The deadline was supposed to be December 2nd and they’re still getting donations in.”

If you want to help, you can visit the organization’s website at

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