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Tree of Lights marks 25th year

December 06, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

HAGERSTOWN -- The traditional Tree of Lights ceremony at Washington County Hospital marked its 25th year Sunday.

The fundraising event has raised nearly $400,000 over the years to help pay for equipment and services at the hospital.

Money is raised by people who purchase a light, dove or angel for the tree in memory of a loved one.

A $10 gift purchases one light, a $25 gift purchases a dove and a $50 gift adds an angel. A gift of $100 provides a "Life Light" to be lit annually and a $500 gift places a light in the "Circle of Lights" at the top of the tree.

As of Sunday night, 242 $10 light donations had been made; three "Circle of Lights" donations; 47 "Life Light" donations; 59 angel donations; and 92 dove donations, according to Sue Fielder, chairwoman of the event.

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The Tree of Lights ceremony, organized by the Washington County Hospital Auxiliary, has raised money for equipment and services like cancer treatments, a trauma unit, X-ray equipment, nursery services and pediatric rehabilitation services.

The money raised this year will help pay for a SiteRite ultrasound machine, which is used to help locate veins in the necks of critically ill patients.

Most critical-care patients need multiple intravenous lines so doctors can administer medications and a large intravenous line is sometimes placed into a large vein in the neck, according to a flier for the event. Finding the vein can be difficult, but the SiteRite machine, which will cost $16,800, gives high-quality images and increases the speed of vein access, the flier said.

About 75 people gathered inside the entrance to the hospital at 5 p.m. Sunday to hear holiday tunes performed by the Saint James Brass Quintet and words from hospital officials about the fundraising effort. Then the switch was flipped to the 35-foot tree outside.

At this time of year, it begins to turn gray and dull outside as leaves fall to the ground, David C. Baker said in an invocation.

But an evergreen tree gives people hope that the Earth will come back to life in the spring, Baker said.

"We come this night to rejoice," said Baker, director of spiritual care services at the hospital.

Donations for the program will be accepted until Dec. 31.

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