WINDSOR, ONT. -- Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare received an early holiday present at the launch of its Tree of Lights Campaign — a $10,000 donation to help brighten up the holidays for patients.

The 34-year-old tradition continued Tuesday, and while previous years would have seen staff and family gathered in the lobby remembering loved ones and placing an ornament in their honour, safety precautions due to COVID-19 required the event to move online.

“While our world has changed what has not is HDGH’s inherent resilience and called upon confidence of serving our community for over 130 years,” HDGH foundation executive director Bill Marra said. “The last few months have allowed us to even further learn the needs of our patients and clients. We are asking our community who are experiencing the effects of these times and wanting to help to please consider HDGH’s Annual Tree of Lights Campaign.”

HDGH’s executive team represented more than 1,300 staff, physicians and the Solcz Family Foundation as this year’s honorary tree lighters to keep the tradition going.

The event was also live-streamed on the hospital’s Facebook page to allow all to tune in for the experience where more than 2,000 lights were lit to mark the start of the holiday season at HDGH.

During the live-stream, Marra shared a message from the Solcz family.

“On behalf of my family, I want to thank HDGH for thinking of us for this opportunity. We are so grateful for our partnership with HDGH and the HDGH Foundation. On behalf of the Solcz Family and the Solcz Family Foundation, we are donating $10,000 toward the 2020 Tree of Lights Campaign."

This year, the funds will go toward a variety of comfort items recognized by frontline staff for patient need.

Donors can choose how they would like their funds directed. For instance, patients in the hospital’s inpatient mental health unit have fleece blankets on their wish lists, while other patients in the regional children’s centre are in need of toiletry and self-care items.

To take part in the campaign, those interested can visit the HDGH website and complete the donation form where they can also include the name of a loved one they’d like to honour.

In recognition of the donation, the HDGH team will decorate their tree with a paper ornament on “behalf of the remarkable person who has had a significant impact in that donor’s life.” Donors will also be gifted an ornament to do the same in their homes.