Santa Paula Times

Holiday tradition draws a crowd

December 01, 1999
Hospice "Light Up a Life"
Santa Paula News
“Light Up A Life”, the annual Hospice of Santa Clara Valley Hospice (HSCV) fund raiser, drew several hundred people to the tree lighting ceremony held Saturday near the corner of 8th and Main streets where those departed loved ones were memorialized and the living honored with twinkling stars. The annual holiday event is one of the most popular community gatherings drawing both young and old. Saturday featured the traditional star-shaped cookies and hot, spiced cider to ward off the cold of the early evening.Entertainment was provided by the Santa Paula Community Choir and Childrens' Choir directed by Leticia Mattson, with Gale Graham on the keyboard.Cathy Barringer, executive director of the HSCV board of directors, noted in her opening remarks the uniqueness of “Light Up A Life”, including the over “100 helping hands of Hospice volunteers. . .this gathering is for those people we honor in our lives and continue remembering,” through donations for a “Light Up A Life”.The Rev. Bill Baumgarten of St. Paul's Episcopal Church and the Rev. Merle Lehman of First United Methodist Church each offered a prayer.“When he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars, and he will make the face of heaven so fine, that all the world will soon be in love with night. . .” wrote Shakespeare, noted the Rev. Baumgarten.“Months or years may pass but we still feel near to them. . .their souls are bound up with ours forever,” said the Rev. Lehman. “Their memory a blessing forever and alive for evermore.”The crowd helped in the count down to light the tree, which for a suspenseful moment didn't light but finally the array of colorful lights came on to the applause of the crowd.
Volunteers read the names of those departed loved ones being memorialized and those living honored with a star. . .the former included all Santa Paula veterans who lost their lives in war and the latter area clubs and organizations as well as city public safety personnel.The lights on the tree, located at the United Water Conservation District headquarters, will remain lit each night through Christmas. Two Santa Paula clubs, Optimist and Odd Fellows, volunteer each year to string the lights.The evening closed with “Silent Night” sung by Patty Strickland and Mattson.The nonprofit Hospice of Santa Clara Valley offers physical, emotional and spiritual support to those with a life-threatening illness and their families. Hospice also has a variety of workshops and counseling available as well as an equipment and sick room supply loan program and video/book/cassette library. All the numerous Hospice services are free.Stars are still available - the donation for each is $10 - at the Hospice office, 133 N. Mill St., Santa Paula. Many area businesses also have star invitations that can be sent to the Hospice. For more information, call 525-1333.