Love Lights & fond memories

Hundreds of tiny lights and candles representing just as many fond memories were illuminated on a Christmas tree on the first floor of Marietta Memorial Hospital Thursday night.

Dozens turned out for the Love Lights Open House, which included carols by Marietta High School choir students, a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus and the lighting of the main Love Lights tree.

“Love lights is an opportunity for us to remember a deceased loved one during this holiday season,” said Chaplain Bob Sinnett during the ceremony.

A tradition since 1991, community members are able dedicate a light, candle or ornament on one of the hospital’s six trees to the memory of a loved one by making a donation to the Memorial Health Foundation.

The money raised goes to help Marietta Hospice, said Memorial Health Foundation Executive Director Daneka Hedges.

People can dedicate a white Christmas tree light for $10, a candle for $20 and an ornament for $100, she said.

“The ornaments are beautiful. They were made by WASCO at Heart to Art and they were kilned and hand beaded. A lot of people have come tonight to see their ornaments,” she said.

Williamstown resident Karen Fenton has participated in the tradition for many years and has 10 lights dedicated to friends this year.

“I do it in memory of friends and family who have died within the past year,” said Fenton, 80.

A retired nurse, Fenton said the lights are a good way to donate to a worthwhile cause.

“Being a retired nurse, I’m familiar with hospice and I have a lot of friends who were helped by hospice. So you know the money is being used for a good cause,” she said.

The money that is contributed through the Love Lights goes to help hospice patients and families with unique individual needs that are outside of the regular hospice benefit, said Jamie Chen, care transition coordinator for Marietta Hospice.

The lights adorn six trees which can be seen throughout the hospital, said Memorial Health Foundation Development Specialist Mariesa McCloud. The trees have different themes, she said.

In addition to the main Love Lights tree, there is the Teddy Bear Tree, the Snowflake Tree, the Snowman Tree, the Peace Tree and the Veterans’ Tree located on various floors of the hospital, said McCloud.

Marietta resident Tom Hockenbrocht has made an annual tradition of reserving a light in memory of his wife, who lost her battle to pancreatic cancer in 2004.

“I do this for a lot of reasons. We want to help the hospital out because we think they do such a good job….It’s also a nice way to remember your loved ones,” he said.

Lights, candles and ornaments can still be purchased through the end of December by contacting the Memorial Health Foundation at 374-4913.

The public is invited to view the trees on the lobbies of each floor of the hospital now through Jan. 6.