Boys Republic in Chino Hills celebrates 100 years of making wreaths and helping troubled teens

Leticia Juarez Image
Thursday, November 23, 2023
Boys Republic in Chino Hills celebrates 100 years of making wreaths
Boys Republic in Chino Hills is celebrating 100 years of making Christmas wreaths while helping troubled youth in Southern California.

CHINO HILLS, Calif. (KABC) -- The smell of freshly cut pine fills the Boys Republic wreath barn in Chino Hills. Inside is an assembly line of students and staff boxing up Christmas wreaths as they have done for the past 100 years.

"Our boys learn work experience, working with other people, working in teams," said Boys Republic Administrator Duffy Blau.

The wreaths are for the non-profit school for disadvantaged youths annual fundraiser, which helps to pay for students' rehabilitation, education, and vocational training.

"It's for kids we get from the court system that have a range of issues from drug problems, family problems, angry problems, things like that. We have a mental health aspect of our program," said Blau.

At Boys Republic, students get a second chance in a setting away from the influences that brought them there. The boys not only get an education they are also taught a skill they can take with them for life.

"80% of them are not college bound. So, we have print shop, wood shop, metal shop, masonry, landscaping," said Blau.

The fundraiser got its start 100 years ago by founder Margaret Fowler as a way to pay for programs and provide students with work experience.

In 1923, the school sold just eight wreaths but over the years a little star power helped fuel its popularity.

Today, an estimated 40,000 wreaths will adorn homes, offices, and shops this holiday.

"The people that buy it actually know what the money is for. It is for helping the students," said Blau.

The Christmas wreaths have proven to be a hit bringing in $2 million a year to support the school.

Another recipe for success has been the culinary training program, which offers an assortment of desserts for the holidays.

"I have the sock-it-to-me cakes we ship out during Christmas. The bake sales and all these funds go to these kids for their college funds, we do scholarships, they help with their families," said Boys Republic Pastry Chef Kevin Brown.

The wreaths go on sale the day after Thanksgiving with the first 55 sent to student's families. If you are interested in purchasing a wreath click here.