Editorial: Love Lights program honors loved ones, benefits those in our community

From the lighting of the star atop Mt. Rachel to the downtown Dalton Christmas parade, our community has plenty of holiday traditions that generations of residents have cherished throughout the years.

One of our favorites holiday traditions is the Love Lights program, which began in 1982 as a collaboration between the Daily Citizen-News and the Whitfield Healthcare Foundation

The Love Lights program has helped memorialize and honor friends and loved ones. When each gift is made, a light is added to the Love Light trees on the campus of Hamilton Medical Center. The names of those honored or remembered, as well as those making the contributions, are listed in the Daily Citizen-News' weekend editions in December and Jan. 1. The foundation mails an acknowledgement card to recipients being honored or to the family of those being memorialized.

Love Lights support basic life needs for financially challenged patients being served by Hamilton Home Health and Hospice and Peeples Cancer Institute. All gifts to the foundation are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

"As patients face life-challenging diagnoses or reduced income due to extensive treatment, the foundation becomes a critical bridge of support," said Jeff Myers, Hamilton Health Care System president and CEO. "Love Lights gifts are truly invaluable and allow us to assist Hamilton patients who lack adequate resources for basic life needs."

In years past, the Love Lights program was kicked off with a festive program at the Peeples Cancer Institute plaza on the Hamilton Medical Center campus complete with hot cocoa, Christmas music and a visit by Santa Claus. However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced the event to be canceled the past two years.

While the kickoff event won't happen this year, the Love Lights tradition continues in its 39th year.

According to the Whitfield Healthcare Foundation: "The Love Lights holiday tradition was begun thanks to the creative planning of two Whitfield Healthcare Foundation board members: Dot Reich and the late Hubert Marsh. Marsh collaborated with Reich to plan a holiday tree lighting ceremony and holiday giving program that would enhance patient care programs at Hamilton Medical Center while offering community members the opportunity to gift lights in honor or in memory of friends and loved ones. To promote the Love Lights program community wide, Reich pitched the idea of a partnership between the Whitfield Healthcare Foundation and the Daily Citizen-News and the newspaper embraced the idea of being involved in an important community-wide fundraiser -- and the rest is history."

Love Lights may be purchased online at HamiltonHealth.com/lovelights, by picking up Love Lights forms at area businesses or by calling the foundation at (706) 272-6128. Look for Love Lights information also in the Daily Citizen-News.

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