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Lights on hospital tree honor, memorialize loved ones

December 04, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - Betty Shrader and her husband, Robert, of Hagerstown, were married just a few months ago, but they still take time to remember their former spouses.

Both died from lung cancer five years apart.

The Shraders said they purchased holiday lights that appear each year on Washington County Hospital's tree of lights. The 30-foot tree outside the hospital's main entrance was lighted Sunday evening during the 22nd annual ceremony organized by the hospital auxiliary. "It's in memory of them," Betty Shrader said.

Jean Goodnight, chairperson of the tree of lights committee, said more than $15,000 was raised this year, and there were 300 to 400 separate donors. Lights ranged in price from $10 for individual ones to $500 for a circle light.

The money raised this year will be used to purchase urological equipment that will be helpful in the hospital's operating rooms, said Heather Sigel, a service line manager at the hospital.

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At least seven "head walls," which attach to the wall at the head of a bed, will also be purchased. These will give doctors and nurses easier access to equipment, said Cindy Lewis, a clinical manager in the emergency department.

Goodnight said it was the donations that make those type of purchases possible each year.

Kathryn Renner of Hagerstown said her late husband always wanted to donate to the hospital. But he was interested in donating one of two large trees growing in their yard.

Renner said he passed away in 2004, but this year she wanted to donate a tree.

"He would have liked that," she said.

The tree, a blue fir, was donated in his memory, she said. The second tree has already been chosen as next year's tree of lights.

Roger Finn, who owns Antietam Tree and Landscape, said his company donates services to install the tree in memory of his grandson. That job was finished the day before Thanksgiving.

Finn said he had charged for that service before his grandson, Henry Atwell Finn, passed away.

"It's a terrific cause, and we're delighted to be able to help," Finn said.

Lois Smith Harrison of Hagerstown said she's been an auxiliary member for 50 years, and for many of those years she's been donating money for the lights in honor of her grandchildren, who are all living.

Her five grandchildren range in age from 10 years old to 22. Over the years, she said, the notices sent to her grandchildren letting them know that holiday lights have been donated in their honor have been sent farther away from Washington County.

"I'm keeping the tradition going," she said. "And it's a nice feeling to promote giving at Christmastime."

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