Lights of Love turns silverFor more than two decades, the lights have signaled a solemn remembrance.
By: Mike Longaecker, The Republican Eagle
For more than two decades, the lights have signaled a solemn remembrance.
Some remember lost loved ones. Others honor the living.
On Thursday, that tradition continues at Fairview Red Wing Medical Center, where the Lights of Love ceremony enters its 25th year.
Organizers said the ceremony, which continues at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Fairview, has become a special occasion for community members.
"It means so much to so many people," said Fairview Red Wing Auxiliary member Gloria Peterson. "There's a lot of tears."
The tree's lights are the shining embodiment of a donor's tribute to a loved one, living or dead.
"It's just a way to honor people you've loved," said auxiliary secretary Mary Jacobus.
Though the donation has climbed from $2 in 1985 to its current $4 amount, auxiliary members have always sought out projects they believe are good causes.
Organizers said proceeds from the ceremony have funded numerous efforts and projects over the years.
Lights of Love began in 1985 - when the hospital was located at St. John's - to start a new program at that facility. Funds went toward establishing a Life Line program here, where patients could press a remote signal device to call for help in the event of a health emergency.
Peterson, who headed Life Line's Red Wing operation before retirement, said funds collected by the auxiliary supplied Life Line with additional transmitters and subsidized costs for subscribers who couldn't afford the service.
Funds went toward Life Line from 1986 to 2003, Bonde said, before that program was relocated to Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, Minn.
Still, Red Wing continued lighting its tree.
These days, funds go toward other sources: scholarships for students planning careers in health-related fields, hospital equipment and the Community, Access, Resources and Education Clinic.
Among the hospital equipment funded in part by Lights of Love is the chime played at Fairview each time a baby is born, Peterson said..
"The auxiliary funds so many wonderful things that the hospital needs," auxiliary member Roxann Bonde said. "You can reach out to other people in need."
Peterson estimated Lights of Love has raised about $2,000 to $2,500 each year.
Red Wing High School's Ovation Choir will perform at the lighting ceremony Thursday, which will be followed by an indoor reception at the hospital.