For approximately the 20th year, the Tree of Love event has been organized by members of the Audrain Medical Center Auxiliary. Two trees were lit Nov. 28 in the entryway of the hospital, following a short ceremony.
The Tree of Love fundraiser, sponsored by the Auxiliary, gives community members an opportunity to remember a deceased person or honor a living person by purchasing a red star for the tree.
"A lot of people want to put stars on the trees in memory of their deceased loved ones," Bonnie Silvey, Auxiliary president said. "This tradition seems to help them deal with grief and remember their family and friends."
The red stars have either a gold or silver bow. The gold bows are in memory of individuals, and the silver bows honor living individuals.
Silvey opened the tree lighting ceremony with a welcome.
Entertainment was provided by Mexico High School's show choir Noteworthy, followed by remarks from hospital administrator Dave Neuendorf.
Stars can still be purchased for the Tree of Love, for $5 each. Applications are available at the Gift Shop or in the Volunteer Services office at AMC. After Dec. 31, when the trees are taken down, the names which are new each year are engraved on small plates which are added to the ones already on the memorial plaque.
"The memorial plaque stays up all year," Jackie Barnett, Auxiliary member and coordinator of the Tree of Love project, said. "We rearrange it each year so that the names stay alphabetical. That way, family members and friends can look at the plaque year-round as they walk down the hallway to the cafeteria."
All of the funds raised by the Auxiliary, through this project and all other fundraisers, directly support the needs of Audrain Medical Center. Currently, the Auxiliary members are finishing financing the furnishing of the new sleep study lab.
"We purchased furniture, bedding, television and other decor for two rooms," Silvey said. "When the lab moved to 2West, the directors wanted the rooms to have a more home-like feel so we helped make this happen."
Auxiliary members plan to renovate the Gift Shop as one of their next projects. They expect to provide funds for new flooring and new cabinets, among other improvements.
"The best part of the tree lighting, and all other fundraisers, is that all of the money raised goes right back into the hospital," Barnett said. "We encourage residents to support the Tree of Love this month."