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Brightening the spirit with holiday lights

Lighting the Way 2023 returns to illuminate more than 40 trees with holiday glow while remembering individuals dealing with end-of-life situations
During a 2022 starry night, Lighting the Way spruce trees illuminate robust, rainbow coloured evening Liberton Park.

Anyone who has listened to the Glee cast’s version of Light Up the World, will enjoy the boppy feel-good song about making someone happy. 

The St. Albert Sturgeon Hospice Association (SASHA) may not have the capacity to record songs, but it is bringing joy into the lives of residents dealing with end-of-life situations. 

The association is currently organizing Lighting the Way 2023, its annual winter holiday campaign that lights up 18 giant spruce trees, nine deciduous trees and 20 community trees around Foyer Lacombe. The trees are lit in remembrance of those who have died, those who are ill, and as an acknowledgement of caregivers and family. 

From Nov. 16 to Jan. 31, about 69,800 light bulbs will illuminate the surrounding hospice area. The glowing trees, lit in a variety of colours, will also be seen when walking or driving by St. Albert Trail close to Mission Hill. 

Throwing the switch is a great selfie moment and opening ceremonies take place Thursday, Nov. 16 at 6 p.m. with dignitaries in attendance. Chaplain Matthieu Coulumbe, resident pastor of Father Lacombe Hospice, will tell touching stories about residents who benefited from the hospice’s care. St. Albert teacher Taya Alexander has organized a choir that will sing the luminous Silent Night

Lighting the Way is mainly so our long-term care and hospice residents can watch it. It makes a dark time in their life a bit brighter,” said interim director Zoe Spaans. “For me, it’s very personal. The illumination represents hope at the end of the day. It’s very ethereal. I love these trees. Sometimes I park on cold winter nights, and I can see their light glowing. What a wonderful way to commemorate a loved one who has passed.” 

Local businesses are generously sponsoring entire trees and making donations. While many sponsorships range from $500 to $1,000, presenting sponsor Neil Rouse Realty offered $5,000. More than half the trees are already selected but additional donations are welcome. 

Since sponsoring an entire tree is too expensive for some budgets, many individuals gather and pool their resources said Spaans. She added SASHA is happy to accept contributions on a smaller scale. Individuals can purchase individual or multiple $10 light bulb that will shine throughout the holiday season on a community tree. 

The goal is to raise $25,000. After expenses are paid, proceeds are used to pay for various programs including a compassionate care program for individuals with life-limiting illnesses, respite for caregivers, hospice teas and appreciation gifts. 

“This year we started a harp therapy program that was very well received and extremely positive. It can do a lot of good and we want to bring it back twice monthly,” Spaans said. 

Cheques can be mailed to St. Albert Sturgeon Hospice Association, P.O. Box 65105, Mission Hill Plaza, St. Albert, T8N 5Y3. For additional information call 587-921-1345 or check out SASHA’s Facebook page. 

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