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The Merritt and District Hospice Society is preparing a Christmas tree for its annual Celebrate-A-Life campaign.
Hospices run the campaign every year around Christmas for people to celebrate the memories of loved ones. This year, the tree at Extra Foods will go up on Dec. 14 and will stay until at least Christmas Eve.
Some of the Hospice’s 28 volunteers will sit with the tree on weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for anyone with questions about the organization or anyone looking for resources to help them deal with grief. They will also accept donations to the hospice, which supports palliative care and provides resources for people who have life-threatening illnesses and their loved ones.
“It can be really hard for people during the holidays,” hospice co-ordinator Jill Sanford said. “It’s just a good way of saying I love you and I remember you.”
Sanford said it’s a therapeutic way to heal from the loss of a loved one, and she sees many of the same faces year after year. She also said people who don’t normally go to Extra Foods make a special stop at the store just for the tree.
“I’ve hung a few tags myself over the years, and it helps,” she said.
People can hang tags on the trees with a message to a loved one, and when the tree comes down, hospice volunteers have a ceremony with them.
“We don’t just throw the tags out after we take the tree down. We do something with them that shows a little more respect,” Sanford said, adding that the volunteers haven’t decided who will take care of the tags or how after the tree comes down. There will also be raffles for a quilt and a basket on the day before the tree comes down, the date of which is still to be determined as well.