1,000,000 Maine Wreaths Headed Across America to DC This Week Amid Controversy
More than a million Maine-made wreaths are headed down to Arlington National Cemetery outside of Washington, DC this week, part of a Maine tradition called "Wreaths Across America."
The nonprofit, based in Washington County, Maine, organizes more than 1,400 wreath-laying ceremonies each year, with the largest being held at Arlington during the holidays.
While this familiar nonprofit event might seem like something warmhearted and patriotic in origin, concerned citizens and donors have started to ask questions about all the money that flows through the organization every year.
This year, the Portland Press Herald published a story titled "As Wreaths Across America has grown, so has scrutiny about its practices," highlighting the fact that "...the Washington County nonprofit paid $10.3 million last year to its supplier, Worcester Wreath Co.; both entities are run by the same family."
According to the Press Herald, Morrill Worcester owns Worcester Wreath Co., a Washington County company he founded in 1971. He’s married to Karen Worcester, executive director of Wreaths Across America. Worcester Wreath supplies all wreaths to the nonprofit, at a stunning cost of more than $10 million per year.
This February, the nonprofit watchdog CharityWatch listed Wreaths Across America among three “outrageous” examples of nonprofits operating with clear conflicts of interest.