Love Lights tradition enriches Auxiliary, COTR celebration

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATo those who don’t know them, it is easy to confuse Carolyn Bell and Carol Bell.

The confusion continues since both of them are members of the Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, and each chairs a very important segment of the annual Love Lights Celebration this year.

Carolyn co-chairs with Pearl Slay the sale of the red and white lights that burn brightly from the 24-foot tree that will be erected on top of the hospital.

Carol chairs the Corporate Wreath segment of the celebration.

Love Lights started with a small tree on the grounds in front of the hospital decorated with red and white lights.

Today, 24 years later, the Love Lights Celebration has grown to be the kick-off event for Christmas on the River and one of the major fundraisers for the Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital Auxiliary.

The 2013 version of the Love Lights and Corporate Wreath event will be held at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, on the grounds of the hospital, with a reception to be held in the lobby.

From its inception, Love Lights has been as way for people to honor with red lights or remember loved ones with white. In addition to the lighted tree on the hospital roof, three trees in the lobby will hold paper ornaments decorated with the names of those so honored.

Those honorees who are military veterans have stars on their ornaments.

The names of the honorees and donors are printed in a book kept on display during the Christmas season

Each light can be purchased for $3, or two may be bought for $5.

Several years ago the Auxiliary also began to offer businesses the opportunity to support their work and to wish Merry Christmas to hospital visitors. Wreaths decorated with gold ribbons display the names of those businesses or individuals who donate at least $100.

All contributions are tax deductible.

Carolyn and Carol have a challenge. The event last year brought in more donations than ever before. Carolyn said 740 Love Lights were sold in 2012, bringing in $2,011. Her goal this year is $2,500.

Alice Boggs, chairman of the Corporate Wreaths last year, said 45 businesses purchased wreaths, realizing $4,500 for the Auxiliary’s projects.

The Love Lights Ceremony is special in yet another way. Flipping the switch to light the tree is the COTR Special Child, a young person facing physical or mental challenges. This year Generria Brown, daughter of Shanika Brown, will be the Special Child. She is a 7-year-old student at Westside Elementary.

Money raised through the event and other projects during the year is used by the Auxiliary to purchase equipment and other items for the hospital.

To purchase Love Lights or a Corporate Wreath, see any member of the Auxiliary or go by the hospital Gift Shop.