BECKLEY, W.Va. (WVVA) The holidays are supposed to be a time of celebration. But for many, there will forever be an empty seat at Christmas dinner.
To honor those who will not be around this season, Hospice of Southern West Virginia hosted its annual Angel Tree Ceremony at Crossroads Mall in Beckley Friday. The tribute marks the start of the organization’s Angel Tree fundraiser — a campaign to raise money for patients who need help with their final expense.
“We serve so many families in the community. This is a hard time for families, especially that first year after losing a loved one. This is a chance for everybody to come out and memorialize their loved ones for the holidays,” said Tim Carrico, Dir. of Public Relations and Marketing for Hospice of Southern W.Va.
This will be the first holiday for the family of Emma McCoy, a Wyoming County teenager who lost her life to a rare vascular disease on November 2.
At the Angel Tree Ceremony, her family had the honor of lighting the tree.
“It was an honor being chosen. She was so young and fought so hard for a long time. A lot of people were really inspired by her story and we’re proud of that,” said Angel McCoy, Emma’s aunt and guardian.
Despite her battles, McCoy said Emma had a smile that shined through.
“This year, we’re thinking of putting her pink tree up. She had a pink tree she kept in her room. We’re going to put it out for her.”
Emma’s story was just one of many on the hearts and minds of those who turned out to Friday’s ceremony, each with that special someone who will be remembered at Christmas.
Through December 23, the Angel trees will be set up at three locations across Southern West Virginia including the Crossroads Mall in Mount Hope, Big Four Drug Store in Hinton, and Marquee Cinemas in Beckley. Anyone is welcome to purchase an angel in honor of their loved one.
Those who donate $20 or more will receive a commemorative Hospice of Southern West Virginia Butterfly Bulb ornament.