TIGNISH, P.E.I.- It’s a special and an emotional time when the memorial tree is lit for the first time each year outside of the Tignish Health Co-op Centre, says the centre’s manager, Wendy Arsenault.
While the sale of bulbs on the memorial tree serves as a fundraiser for the health centre, Arsenault said the event is much more than that.
“We think it is a beautiful thing, and it’s an emotional thing, because we know that each bulb represents somebody we are not going to have here at Christmas,” she said. “We take great pride in having that tree in our parking lot.”
Today at 6 p.m., the health centre will host its seventh annual tree-lighting ceremony. A social time with refreshments will follow the main event.
Health centre board president, Wane Ellsworth, said a special tree gets donated and placed outside of the main entrance each year to serve as a memorial tree.
“Once it’s lit, it’s lit for the whole season. For us to be able to have that in our parking lot and to have people go by and see that: that’s what it is, it’s a memorial tree.”
Community volunteers are selling memorial tags at $5 apiece. They can also be purchased at the health centre, and a sales booth will be staffed from time to time at the Tignish Co-op link.
The campaign usually raises between $3,500 and $4,000 a year in support of the health centre. The funds, said Arsenault, help cover general expenditures, such as electricity.
“We have so many different services that we provide, and all the services, if there is rent, it is kept to a minimum, just because our purpose is to provide these services to the public,” she said.
The memorial tags are placed over the Christmas lights by health centre staff and volunteers.
“We do them here because there are so many lights,” Arsenault said. “We make sure they’re on and they are going to stay on properly. They go on randomly.”
Following the lighting ceremony, some individuals gather around the tree to see if they can locate tags in memory of loved ones. Arsenault said she has done so herself.
“It makes you feel good. It’s sort of like a little, ‘Hey, I’m doing OK’ type of thing, a little sign.”