Jun. 7, 2024 |
by Beth Sparks

Memorial Tree Boosts Charities

A project that began as a way to allow family members to honor the memory of loved ones has expanded far beyond its original location while raising $30,000 for various Marshall Health Network charities.

The Memorial Christmas Tree made its debut at St. Mary’s Medical Center in 2017 under the direction of the Department of Spiritual Care & Mission. The purpose was to give family members a way to honor the memory of a loved one by placing an ornament on the tree. Participants made a donation for each ornament, with the proceeds used to support various SMMC mission activities.

The first year about 100 ornaments were purchased for the tree at SMCC. With the changes in the network that have since brought Cabell Huntington Hospital, Rivers Health and HIMG on board, last year there were 225 ornaments displayed on trees placed in each facility.

“To date, we’ve been able to provide support to the Helping Our Family and the Pallotti Fund,” said Spiritual Care Director Greg Creasy. “Both of these funds support patients and staff who need help because of difficulties due to illness or disaster.”

More than $15,000 has been raised for those two initiatives.

In addition, the ornaments have aided the St. Mary’s Hospitality House and SMCC Auxiliary ($5,600); FaithHealth Appalachia, a nonprofit mission project of the network ($3,000); Critical Incident Stress Management Training for hospital employees and area first responders ($2,500); and the Good Samaritan Fund, which helps needy cancer patients with transportation, lodging and other costs associated with treatment ($2,000).

Invitations to participate in the Memorial Tree are sent to every family who has lost a family member at St. Mary’s, as well as all employees at the facility. In 2022 the project was expanded to include CHH and HIMG, and in 2023 Rivers Health became part of the initiative.

“Individuals have the opportunity to place ornaments each year,” Creasy said. “We send a separate letter to those who have placed an ornament in the past. We have some who are on the tree every year and give the donation each time.”