Questionable Connections Cast Doubt On War Memorial Nonprofit

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A nonprofit dedicated to lying wreaths on the graves of fallen American soldiers found itself in the spotlight Monday over its close family ties to the company it exclusively purchases from.

Wreaths Across America (WAA) is dedicated with honoring fallen servicemen and women across the country. Its biggest tribute comes every December when the nonprofit lays wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery. The Worcester family, which runs the nonprofit, also owns the company from which the wreaths are purchased.

“While some may question the close relationship between the two organizations,” WAA Chairman Wayne Hanson said in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “WWC has supplied wreaths at below-market prices and with the supply chain flexibility that has enabled WAA to grow into the organization it is today.”

Worcester Wreath Co. makes a lot of money from the charity, according to The Wall Street Journal. The company, which previously had financial troubles, sells wreaths for $8.50 each, which leaves the company $1.20 in profit. In 2015, the company sold 876,000 wreaths to the charity, amounting to $1.05 million. The nonprofit noted in November, however, that wreaths sponsorship costs $15. It told the Washington Examiner at the time that it needed an additional $450,000 or else 30,000 Arlington graves would not get a wreath.

“We at WAA were disappointed to see a number of inaccuracies noted in Michael M. Phillips’ article in The Wall Street Journal,”  Hanson continued. “We will be drafting a letter to the editor to correct those details.”

If the nonprofit is being charged $8.50 per wreath, a $15 sponsorship per wreath would amount to a significant overhead. Overhead that is also covered by individual wreaths sponsors, corporate donors and volunteer truckers anyways. The nonprofit, though, notes there are much more expenses that go into its work because they are involved in nearly every step.

“83 percent of every dollar goes to the actual placing of a wreath on each veteran grave, which includes the cost of the wreaths, logistics, payback to fundraising groups, and other wreath placing related costs,” a company representative told TheDCNF. “That leaves 17 percent for our full-time employees, technology costs, advertising, public relations, accountants, lawyers, education, outreach, travel, postage, transactional fees, and contingencies for things like emergency shipping.”

Additionally, according to the nonprofit, none of the Board members or the Executive Director take any salaries. It also pays some money back to help the charities that supported them. The representative notes $5 of every $15 sponsorship is paid back to the fundraising group.

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