Santa Paula Times

Light Up a Life: Traditional holiday Hospice fundraiser this Saturday

November 21, 2012
Santa Paula News

Hundreds of community members support the Santa Clara Valley Hospice/Home Support Group’s annual fundraiser, but it’s the Optimist Club that each year provides the signature lights of Light Up a Life.

The 22nd Annual Light Up a Life will be held Saturday, November 24 at 4:30 p.m. at the towering tree located in front of the United Water Conservation District headquarters on the corner of East Main and North 8th streets. The annual event memorializes lost loved ones and recognizes those still held close, a celebration of caring that has become one of the community’s most endearing holiday traditions.

New and familiar names will join the list of thousands and thousands memorialized and honored over the years under the canopy of twinkling lights, each representing someone special. Lights cost only $10 each per remembrance or recognition, and the Tree Lighting Ceremony attracts many community members who enjoy music, a holiday sing-along and the reading of all names listed. 

In case of rain the ceremony will be moved across the street inside Blanchard Community Library, which offers a perfect view of the tree. At 5 p.m. there is a countdown and the lights on the tall tree are lit to shine throughout the holiday season, its twinkling lights reflected in many nearby windows, creating a meaningful swirl of colors.

Ron Merson of the Optimist Club said Saturday’s storm delayed stringing the tree with lights. “But we put the lights up there Sunday; it was really nice weather” for the crew of volunteers, who have to place 10 strings of lights attached to ropes because “that makes them easier to work with. “We have to power up to make sure the bulbs or sockets are not broken” before the lights are attached to the rope and placed in the tree using a ring and pulley system.

Optimist volunteers found that the crown ring was “really beat up” and needed replacement, and Rolls Scaffold of Ventura donated the use of an 85-foot power ladder to do the work. “It was really generous of them,” and Merson said there are many that help keep the Light up the Life lights bright, donating equipment such as rope and plastic coated wire cable as well as funds - Hospice pays for replacement light bulbs and sockets - to ensure the annual fundraiser shines in tribute to those remembered and honored.

On Saturday there will be a special donation table to accept remembrances or recognitions - only $10 each - on the spot that will be included on the list of names read at the event. Light Up A Life names will be published in the Santa Paula Times up until Christmas.

The popularity of Light Up A Life is enduring, partly because everyone can briefly share his or her memories of lost loved ones or comment on those living that are honored during the moving - but never maudlin - ceremony.

For more information, or to arrange your donation and twinkling lights, call the Hospice office at 525-1333. All proceeds benefit Santa Clara Valley Hospice/Home Support Group, a nonprofit organization offering an array of always-free services to those with life-limiting illness and their families throughout the Santa Clara River Valley.