Honoring Veterans with Preston Sharp
● By Kendra Kaiserman
Lookin' SharpMay 2016
Story by Kendra Kaiserman
Photos by Erin Claassen
On Nov. 11, 2015, 10-year-old Preston Sharp entered a cemetery to honor one veteran, not knowing that later that day he would develop an idea that would pay tribute to many.
Last Veterans Day, Preston and his family went to visit his grandfather George Sharp’s grave at Redding Memorial Park Preston wondered why there weren’t any flags out to honor the fallen veterans.
“He got really upset,” says Preston’s mother, April Sharp. “I mean, we got home, and he was still talking about it and at that point I said, ‘You know what, son? If you’re this upset about something, don’t just sit back and complain about it. You have to do something about it.’ And he goes, ‘OK, well, I’m gonna do it then. I’m gonna put flags and flowers on all the veterans’ graves.’”
Preston started collecting money in a jar, first asking some of his mother’s friends, then working to raise money. “I started doing chores,” says Preston.
“In that one day, I got like $100,” Preston says. “Then, the next day my mom found out about GoFundMe and we started that with the money in that jar.”
Since then, Preston has raised $1,430 on his GoFundMe page and has put 2,500 flags and 800 flowers on veterans’ grave sites.
Preston is determined to honor veterans, rain or shine. “He goes out every single Sunday, and let me just tell you, here it is pouring, and I’m like, ‘Maybe we shouldn’t go out today. You know, you were sick last week,’” April says. “And he’s like, ‘Mom, do you think that when they were fighting for our country, do you think that they said, ‘Oh, it’s raining, we can’t go out’?’”
Preston’s plan is to raise enough money to put a flag and a flower on every veteran’s grave site at Redding Memorial Park, then begin to honor the fallen veterans at Lawncrest Memorial Park. However, before he puts flags and flowers on new grave sites, he replaces damaged flags and flowers on graves he’s already put them on. He even “makes sure that they’re straight” and haven’t fallen over, April notes.
Preston’s efforts are not going unnoticed. He was presented with an American flag that flew over the White House and a certificate by California Representative Doug LaMalfa, which he was awarded in front of the fourth graders at his school, Columbia Elementary, on Feb. 17. He also received an American Legion Auxiliary Good Deed Award and a coin on March 6.
Preston has a Facebook page to let people know what he is doing, “to get the word out and to get more funds for the flags,” April says. He currently has 857 friends and his goal is to reach 1,000.
People’s lives have been touched by the ambition of young Preston. April recounts a few weeks back where a woman approached Preston at the cemetery, “crying her eyes out and was so emotional.” The woman shared with Preston that she was visiting her mother’s grave and thought to herself that she wanted to put a flag next to it, and when she came back another day, there was a flag with a flower from Preston “and she was so touched,” April says. “Other people have just come up and have said, ‘Thank you.’”
The Sharps aren’t doing anything different than what they have been doing for Memorial Day. Preston believes veterans “should be honored every day and not just on a holiday,” April notes.
Others are welcome to help Preston at the Redding Memorial Park on Sundays at 10:30 am.
Find Preston’s GoFundMe page by searching for Vet Flags & Flowers on gofundme.com.