A local funeral home is hosting an event to help raise funds for those who honor veterans during memorial services.
The Second Jacksonville Operation Honor Guard event will be held this week at Williamson Funeral Home. Greg May with Williamson said a colleague from Danville reached out to him last year about getting involved with the Operation Honor Guard Program.
The program was started in 2013 as a way to help local honor guards have the uniforms and equipment they need to perform Military Honors for veterans during their memorial services. Honor guard members volunteer their time to perform these honors.
May said the guard members commitment to their work in honoring veterans moved him to help start the program in Jacksonville.
“the guys take so much pride in what they do, they practice, they are there, they are a phone call away. And I think their sense is kind of like a sports team with a new uniform, the guys feel good about what they are doing when they have good gear on. They do it 365 days a year, it may be hot, but they also do it when it’s ten below. The guys never complain, they are always there. It’s nice to get the guys jackets and winter gear and the equipment they need.”
The program has expanded over the last six years to include fund raising events in Champaign, Decatur, Bloomington, East Peoria, and Washington, Illinois. May gave some details on the event going on this week.
“We are going to have the Williamson parking lot blocked off and we are going to have representatives from local honor guards at our building and we are going to have collection buckets. It will be a simple drive through process from 6:00 in the morning until 7:00 in the evening. You can drive through the parking lot, you can hand off a donation, and that donation is going to go, not only to the Jacksonville honor guard, but we are going to try to reach out to some of the surrounding areas this year too.”
May said that support for the first event grew quickly last year.
“It was amazing last year, I put this together last year in about two weeks, and as soon as news started to get out and word spread, I had people coming up to me and just handing me money. They would say hey, I can’t be here next week, I know what you are doing, take this and put it in your bucket, and know we are thinking of you.”
To donate to the event, just drive through the parking lot of Williamson Funeral Home anytime between 6:00 am and 7:00 pm this Wednesday. Checks or cash will be accepted, checks should be made out to Operation Honor Guard.
Local veteran group representatives will be there Wednesday to accept the donations from the public. May said their involvement was a highlight of last years event.
“We will have representatives there most of the day, if not the whole day. You know one of the best things about last year’s event was to see families come in, families that we had served, families that maybe we knew had a recent loss, they would come in and look the veteran in the eye and shake their hand and say thank you, you don’t know what your service meant to my Father, or Grandfather, or Brother’s service.”
If you are unable to go to the event on Wednesday, Williamson Funeral Home will be accepting drop off donations this week in the office inside the funeral home.