Trees store spe­cial, lov­ing mem­o­ries

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

‘‘We have tis­sues down here,’’ says Aro­hanui Hospice vol­un­teer, Ken Thomas.

Ken is on duty at the ‘twin pines’ out­side Farm­ers in the Plaza. It’s the sec­ond year the Trees of Re­mem­brance have been set up at the store, pro­vid­ing a place where peo­ple can at­tach a mem­ory of some­one spe­cial – some­one they sorely miss. It’s a loss that can be es­pe­cially heartrend­ing and poignant at Christ­mas time.

And the tis­sues? They’re kept on a shelf in­side the booth.

‘‘Some­times peo­ple make a do­na­tion to hang a card on the tree, but they have to take the card away with them be­cause it’s just too emo­tional,’’ Ken says.

Last year, he re­calls a fam­ily com­ing to the tree – a grand­mother, mother, daugh­ter and grand­chil­dren.

‘‘A boy wanted to fill out a card for his grandpa and asked if it could be placed right at the top of the tree. At that mo­ment one of the Jets bas­ket­ball play­ers was just pass­ing. He took the card and put it up there for him.’’

It was an emo­tional con­nec­tion. Cue the tis­sues.

‘‘Some­times peo­ple make a do­na­tion to hang a card on the tree, but they have to take the card away with them be­cause it’s just too emo­tional’’ Ken Thomas Aro­hanui Hospice vol­un­teer

Last year, the Trees of Re­mem­brance set up in Palmer­ston North and in Levin raised $23,000 in do­na­tions for the hospice. Of­fi­cially launched last week, the trees have been up since Novem­ber 16. Fes­tooned with the dec­o­ra­tive cards, do­na­tions are al­ready more than half­way to that to­tal.

The launch was at­tended by Turbo Man, who left his own mes­sage for de­parted rugby star, Jonah Lomu.

Aro­hanui’s Clare Ran­dall says there are also de­signer Christ­mas baubles by Leti­tia Lam and Michael Tuffery, and Christ­mas CDs by Tim Bet­teridge for sale, with all pro­ceeds go­ing to­ward meet­ing the $2.2 mil­lion short­fall the hospice has each year.

‘‘We’re really grate­ful for the sup­port from Farm­ers, it’s just amaz­ing.’’

Farm­ers store man­ager Kevin Craw­ford says the cards rep­re­sent car­ing com­mu­nity con­nec­tions from peo­ple and fam­i­lies who have ex­pe­ri­enced first-hand the ser­vices hospice pro­vides.

The cards and their mes­sages will be re­dis­played at the hospice dur­ing Jan­uary, be­fore be­ing col­lected up and cre­mated, with the ashes scat­tered at a spe­cial re­mem­brance ser­vice..

Photo: DAVID UN­WIN/ FAIR­FAX NZ

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