A Tree is Tagged for Walmart's Founder

When corporate sponsors become corporate partners sharing like-minded missions and visions, families and communities across the nation prosper. Genuine friendships are created and nurtured along with company goals and objectives, and the byproducts of those unions and combined creativity are respect and enthusiasm for endless opportunities.

That model of productive teamwork was on full display recently as the Region 4 Walmart Regional Leaders visited the Wreaths Across America National Headquarters and Museum in Maine. “These region leaders are from North Carolina right up through Maine, and they already do a lot with Wreaths Across America,” explains Jenny Lovering, General Transportation Manager for Walmart in Lewiston, Maine. “All of the relays we do go through their offices, so this is a great way for them to get that deeper connection to what it really means to carry on the mission.”

On Flag-Waving Tuesday, the Walmart team learned the history behind the Tuesday morning tradition that the Freeport Flag Ladies started in 2001 following the terrorist attacks on American soil. The leaders grabbed flags and energetically waved them at passing motorists encouraged by horns honking out support. They roared with delight when one of those passing vehicles was a Walmart driver and veteran-themed trailer. The military veterans in the group, of which there were four, had the honor of raising and lowering the flag for the ceremony.

The Region 4 Team Leader is Michael del Rosario, Senior Director for Domestic Transportations in the Northeast. Mike served in the U.S. Army as a Tank Platoon Leader and Battalion Maintenance Officer, who, as a Captain, transitioned out of the military into Walmart through their Hiring Heroes recruitment campaign in conjunction with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Before joining them, I did some research, and I read Sam Walton’s book, Made in America, to see if their corporate culture was a fit for my values,” Mike shared. “Their culture and purpose of saving people money so they can live better is an honorable mission and something that I felt I could contribute to.”

After the American flag was lowered and folded, it was handed off to Mike. “So, we’re a team, right? So, it doesn’t make sense for that flag to stay in one spot with one person. I’m going to put it into a shadow box with that certificate, and it will travel to every one of our offices in the Northeast so our drivers know we were here to serve, not just ourselves but them. That flag belongs to everyone.”

Veterans Kevin Woodward & Mike del Rosario

Following the Tuesday Flag Waving ceremony, the group was welcomed by Wreaths Across America founder and wreath vendor Morrill Worcester at the factory for a wreath-making demonstration. A tour of the Wreaths Across America museum was next, followed by lunch and tree-tagging. It was a poignant moment for all when Mike and Jenny placed replica dog tags for Walmart Founder and veteran Sam Walton and his brother Bud. Sam served as a Captain in the United States Army Intelligence Corps during World War II, and Bud served in the Navy, also during WWII.

Other Walmart Region Four leaders are taking their involvement with Wreaths Across America to its full potential. Lori Feathers is the General Transportation Manager at the Bedford, Pennsylvania grocery distribution center. “For me personally, I like the people and the culture.Walmart’s corporate values align with my own,” Lori explained her twenty-five-year company career. “They like you to get out and do things in the community, and I like to know that I’m helping somebody.” Lori brings her community together to remember and honor the victims of Flight 93 who perished during the 2001 terror attacks. “We make it special because it’s a big deal. This year, we’re going to be getting more ceremonial wreaths, and I’m working with veterans’ groups in the neighborhood to place ceremonial wreaths at three town squares, a veteran’s home, and a hospital.”

Lori Feathers tags a tree with replica dog tags

Lori is joined in her enthusiasm for building communities through Wreaths Across America by Danielle Sexton, General Transportation Manager for Walmart in Marcy, New York. “I have been involved with Wreaths for sixteen years, and honoring our veterans is the easiest part of my job. Bringing Walmart associates and drivers together through Wreaths Across America is very special to me. My father served, my father-in-law served, my grandfather served, and I’ve always had the utmost respect for those who have served to protect the freedoms we so often take for granted.” Danielle has been able to hand over Location Coordinator responsibilities to her sons. “Wreaths Across America has given us the opportunity to teach in our community, and my two sons are both enrolled in Navy ROTC in their high school, and they’re involved with our ceremonies.”

Walmart group at Freeport Flag Ladies Monument

Wreaths Across America was able to provide facilities for the Region Four Leaders to conduct their meetings, in which they discussed additional ideas on how to build upon and strengthen their relationship with Wreaths Across America in their communities.

Thank you, Walmart, for your continued support of the mission to remember, honor, and teach and for finding new and exciting ways to collaborate as a corporate partner.