Check out Preston's full website at prestonsharp.net
The story of Preston honoring veterans began on Veterans Day 2015, when he visited his grandfather’s grave at a Redding, California, cemetery to place a flag and flowers in memorial to his grandfather’s service in the US Navy. It was during this visit that Preston became upset when he noticed that other local veterans weren’t being honored on this special day with a flag or a flower. Being a normal ten-year-old he continued to verbalize his irritation throughout the day, so I eventually advised him that, “You can’t complain about something unless you try to do something about it.” Preston’s response was a look of conviction and the words, “I’m going to do something about it, Mom!”
His attempts to raise funds began immediately when he asked how much money he could get if he vacuumed the floors. That night Preston set a goal to honor every veteran at the McDonald cemetery in Redding with the placement of a flag and a flower. Using social media, word of Preston’s effort and goal spread and the Sunday visits to McDonald cemetery began to draw other community members, some from more than 60 miles away. As Preston began to realize his goal of honoring all veterans at the McDonald cemetery he extended his goal to include veterans at other Redding cemeteries, then it was veterans in Shasta County, then the neighboring counties were brought in too. Preston then set a goal to honor veterans in every township along Interstate 5 between Redding and Sacramento, a 160 mile stretch of highway.
Having met that goal Preston has set a new goal to honor veterans in all 50 states and to challenge others to get involved wherever they are through the Flag and Flower Challenge (#FandFChallenge). This is a challenge for those across the United States, and other countries, where US Service men and women are buried, to place a US Flag and a flower and THANK a veteran for their service. Over the last 3 years, Preston has organized the placement of over 200,000 US flags and artificial red carnations at veteran’s gravesites in 28 states, and he’s not stopping here.
Over the last two and half years, Preston has worked tirelessly to raise money for his cause. He has carefully used each donation made so far to give back to veterans across the nation, but there are still so many more he wants to honor.
Obviously, Preston has not accomplished this on his own. At each cemetery we visit, community members come out to meet Preston and help clean gravesites and say “Thank You” to those who have provided service to our country. If you come out to help, Preston has specific expectations. It isn’t just placing a flag and a flower at each headstone, Preston wants each veteran to be thanked personally by saying out loud the veteran’s name and to thank them for their service. Preston is quite specific about saying the veteran’s name out loud, as he feels that a veteran’s name not said out loud is a veteran forgotten.
Preston has spoken in front of countless groups to share his conviction and to raise funding to meet his goals. The greatest ongoing concern with Preston’s goals is raising the funds to purchase the flags and flowers and travel to the out-of-state cemeteries. Preston plans on using his summer vacation to honor veterans across the nation and we need your help! Honoring a single veteran costs about $3 and with Preston’s big dreams, we can’t do this alone.
Prestons longtime goal for the non-profit Veterans Flags and Flowers is to have enough money to send red carnations to cemeteries for Veterans Day every year. So they can place the red carnation next to the American Flag.
Each donation helps Preston come closer to his goal of honoring veterans in all 50 states. Even if you can’t donate, you can still help Preston by completing the #FandFChallenge, saying “Thank you” and recognizing the services that veterans have provided to this great nation, and by sharing this campaign. Thank you so much!
Check Preston's full website here: http://prestonsharp.net/
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