NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

October 2, 2013

Wreath-selling could benefit military families

By Mac Cerullo
Staff Writer

---- — AMESBURY — For years, Amesbury eighth-graders have celebrated the end of their middle school careers by taking part in the school’s annual eighth-grade class trip to Disney World, but for some students, paying for the trip can sometimes be a challenge.

But this year, Jill Hrubes, who has a son in the eighth grade and can’t afford to pay for the trip herself, has come up with an idea that she hopes will help raise money for the students through the school’s wreath-selling fundraiser while also supporting military families.

Every year, the middle school holds a fundraiser where eighth-grade students can sell wreaths to help cover the cost of the trip. The wreaths typically sell for $15 each, with $5 going toward the student’s overall bill.

The only problem with the fundraiser is that in order to fully cover the $825 cost of the trip, a student would have to sell 165 wreaths, and the mid-October deadline doesn’t give students much time to sell, Hrubes said.

“And if all of them try to sell 165 wreaths, there aren’t that many families in Amesbury,” Hrubes said.

Speaking of her own situation, Hrubes said she works 40 hours a week at a job that pays $10 per hour and doesn’t allow soliciting, meaning she can’t sell wreaths to people at work.

She also has two older sons in college whose tuition she’s trying to pay for, making it really tough to also come up with the money for her younger son’s school trip.

“I’m struggling to pay for those bills, but both of them went on the trip, so how can I say no,” Hrubes said.

Looking for a way to reach a wider wreath market, Hrubes thought of one of her older son’s close friends who is in the military and recalled that he won’t be home for Christmas this year.

“He’s out in the Middle East and he’s not eligible to leave until next year, so he won’t be home for Christmas,” Hrubes said. “So I thought about the families who have loved ones that aren’t home, and what if their families were donated a wreath?

Hrubes reached out to a liaison for military families on the North Shore and asked about having wreaths donated to the families of military members who won’t be home for the holidays. The liaison loved the idea, and said she would anonymously donate the wreaths to such families if residents contributed $15 as if they’d purchased it for themselves.

In addition to military families, Hrubes said the wreaths could also be donated to hospice families, veterans and survivors of domestic violence as well. Donors can specify which category they’d like their wreath sent to and Hrubes’ wreath donor would make sure it reaches the appropriate party.

“If they wanted to enclose a money order or a check in the mail to myself or my son, and the venue they’d like to have it donated to, and then anything above the $825 would go to the pool for all the kids that can’t afford it,” Hrubes said. “So if we sell 500 wreaths, then that would mean four or five more kids could go on this trip.”

Donations can be mailed to the Hrubes family at 37 Macy Terrace, Amesbury; and if prospective donors have any questions or need more information, Hrubes can be reached at 978-985-0158.