The holidays are often a season of traditions – whether that be gathering with family, decking the halls or indulging in delicious meals. For our Springfield market, the tradition is all about honoring the people we love.
The annual Lights of Love event is held each year at both Mercy Health – Springfield Regional Medical Center and Mercy Health – Urbana Hospital, serving as the kickoff to the holiday season. What started as way to remember the patients and residents who have passed has grown into an annual holiday celebration that allows the entire community to come together in support of a very important cause.
“My favorite memory was our first reprisal of the event in 1988,” Lynn White, president of TWIG13, the group that helps organize Urbana’s Lights of Love celebration each year, shares. “The hospital had just planted a donated spruce tree in memory of a community member’s loved one. We then decided to take the opportunity to offer Lights of Love to our community, using that memorial tree.”
The memorial tree paved the way for a new tradition – allowing community members to make a donation in support of the health system in exchange for a special ornament honoring their loved ones.
“We light lights for any occasion – a loved one, friends, relatives, neighbors. All of the proceeds go to the patients of the community with the help of Mercy Health,” Valerie Reed, chairman of the Lights of Love event at Springfield Regional Medical Center, explains. “I love to see the same people who come and donate every year.”
Not only does the event give the community some ownership in the quality of health care available to patients in the area, but it’s a great way to keep spirits high during the holidays, even when not everyone is still around to celebrate.
“The holidays are difficult sometimes as we remember those we have lost,” Lynn adds. “A bright light of love can help soften the grief of a loved one now passed.”
While those who participated in the Urbana Lights of Love picked up their keepsake snowflake ornament upon the event’s conclusion, anyone taking part in Springfield’s Lights of Love campaign will be able to see their ornaments on display all season long, decorating the Christmas trees that brighten the lobby of Springfield Regional Medical Center throughout the Christmas season.
Organizers also hope this year’s events made the holidays feel a little more normal, following two-plus years of enduring the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The past few years we haven’t had our big ceremony – and I’ve missed seeing those people,” Valerie says. “This year, I enjoyed seeing familiar faces once again.”
This holiday season, we are celebrating by spreading the good news! Read more feel-good stories, like this one, that feature our team members, patients and the wonderful communities we are blessed to serve.
Also, learn about health care services we provide at Mercy Health.