By the Numbers: Boys Republic’s 3 Millionth WreathSep 23, 2016 -
Historic Work Experience Program Approaches Significant Milestone
Each wreath that passes through the hands of students in the assembly line is decorated and gently tucked into a shipping box. The evergreen boughs, specially handled by Boys Republic students, in turn touch each teenager with the experience of earning his own way through honest work.
Students and the staff who supervise them fashion and ship Della Robbia Christmas wreaths every holiday season. This year, the three millionth Della Robbia wreath will be hand-assembled by students since the program’s inception.
The enduring work experience program began as a simple craft project. Boys Republic founder Margaret Fowler first taught wreath-making to the children in her care in 1923. That Christmas, students made a couple dozen wreaths and, with the help of the Pasadena Auxiliary, sold them door to door in the community for $2.50 each.
The project was so successful that the next year students made 107 wreaths. Wreath sales grew to 500 boughs the following season, then 1,000, then 1,500. In the early 1950s, Boys Republic’s Board of Directors formalized Della Robbia wreath-making into a warehouse work experience program.
Teenagers today assemble an average of 40,000 Della Robbias every Christmas season. The three millionth wreath symbolizes ninety-three years of student growth and recovery through the vocational program. To commemorate this milestone, the California State Senate recognized the Della Robbia wreath campaign and the thousands of students touched by the work experience program on the Senate floor in August.