HONOLULU (KHON2) — With Memorial Day quickly approaching, one volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America Aloha Council and Girl Scouts of Hawaii wants to make sure every grave at veterans cemeteries is decorated with an American flag and lei for their service and sacrifice.

Gary Hashimoto said for the first time since the tradition began decades ago, 2020 did not happen, and 2021 had a very limited effort. This year is scheduled to happen in full swing, but there’s a shortage of lei.

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Hashimoto is with Boy Scout Troops 181 and 201, and Girl Scout Troop 201. His father served the country for 35 years, and he has two uncles buried at the Punchbowl cemetery. He’s asking people who have a flower lei that they won’t need after graduation or “moving up” ceremonies to donate them.

“We’re so honored to be able to perform our duty, to pay our respects to those who wrote a blank check to the United States of America,” Hashimoto told KHON2 on Thursday. “We may not know any of those buried there, but we owe them all for our freedoms.”

Hashimoto said he will be at the Nuuanu Elementary School gym on Friday, May 27, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. But if Friday doesn’t work, the Girl Scouts will be at Windward Mall center stage on Saturday, May 28, at 10 a.m. Hashimoto is asking for flowers or fresh lei only, no plastic.

Hashimoto said Don Murphy from Murphy’s Bar & Grill has arranged for a $1,000+ donation and is collecting donations at his establishments that he’ll be matching for them.

The Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation is also showing their appreciation by hosting their Sew Lei for Memorial Day events. If you can’t volunteer, they will be taking flower donations, particularly plumeria. Drop them off at any of their May 27 lei-sewing sites listed below.

Lei Sewing Sites:

May 10Foster Botanical Garden (Ti Leaf Lei)(808) 768-713910 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
May 13 & 14Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden (Ti Leaf Lei)(808) 233-732310 a.m. – 2 p.m.
May 26Kāneʻohe Senior Center (Adults Only)(808) 768-684710:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
May 27Kailua District Park(808) 768-68329 a.m. – 12 p.m.
May 27Kīlauea District Park(808) 768-67139 a.m. – 12 p.m.
May 27Makua Aliʻi Senior Center(808) 768-68939 a.m. – 12 p.m.
May 27Waiʻanae District Park(808) 696-50399 a.m. – 12 p.m.
May 27Waiau District Park(808) 768-67959 a.m. – 12 p.m.
May 27Waipahū District Park(808) 768-67989 a.m. – 12 p.m.
May 27Honolulu Hale(808) 768-713910 a.m. – 1 p.m.
May 27Kapolei Hale (808) 768-300310 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Lei Drop-off Sites:

If you’re making your own lei, drop it off at one of the locations below. The lei needs to be 10-11 inches, tied, and flower lei are preferred. Ti leaf lei, however, will also work.

Pāhoa High SchoolMay 25 by 1 p.m.
Ka‘ū-Kea‘au-Pāhoa District OfficeMay 25 by 1 p.m.
Hilo-Waiākea District OfficeMay 25 by 1 p.m.
Robert Louis Stevenson Middle SchoolMay 26 by 9 a.m.
Kailua Intermediate SchoolMay 26 by 9 a.m.
August Ahrens Elementary SchoolMay 26 by 9 a.m.
Kainalu Elementary SchoolMay 26 by 9 a.m.
All Honolulu Fire Department Fire StationsMay 27, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Federal Fire Stations: Headquarters at 650 Center Drive, Pearl Harbor, Ford Island, Marine Corps Base Hawai‘i, Schofield Barracks May 27, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. 
Frank Fasi Municipal BuildingMay 27, 8 a.m. – noon
Ala Wai Community ParkMay 27, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Kailua District ParkMay 27, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Makiki District ParkMay 27, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Makua Ali‘i Senior CenterMay 27, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Waialua District ParkMay 27, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Wai‘anae District ParkMay 27, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Waipahū District ParkMay 27, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Honolulu Hale May 27, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Kapolei Hale May 27, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Punchbowl / Pūowaina CemeteryMay 28, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

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It’s been a longstanding tradition to place lei on every gravesite at Punchbowl on Memorial Day. Every year, the community works together to make about 38,000 lei.