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As of Monday, Hospice of San Joaquin, a nonprofit health care service, has exceeded their initial $255,000 donation goal for their Tree of Lights event by approximately $10,000.

Director of Marketing and Development for Hospice of San Joaquin, Sandy Stoddard, said this is the first year Hospice of San Joaquin has surpassed their goal by so much.

Stoddard said she isn’t sure what made donations increase drastically this year but believes it could be because health care heroes were included as honorees. Despite exceeding the goal, the nonprofit is still accepting donations, she said.

Tree of Lights is an event where residents throughout the county are able make donations to honor health care workers, or loved ones who are sick or have passed away.

Visitors to a Hospice Tree of Lights event view a memory board, which includes a list of the people being honored or remembered at the ceremony. (Image courtesy of Hospice of San Joaquin)

Each person who donates receives a colored light or treetop, depending on their donation, ranging from $5 to $1,000, that is placed on one of the eight Christmas trees throughout the county.

“People are now certainly ready to open their hearts and support us … wanting to remember their loved ones who have passed,” Stoddard said.

Beginning in late November, Hospice of San Joaquin with the help of PG&E volunteers hosts a tree lighting ceremony in eight cities for donors to watch their light donation light up on the tree.

PG&E volunteers also make a memory board, which is placed in a glass case, that sits alongside the Christmas trees.

Inside the case, people can see a list of the people being honored or remembered at the ceremony.

According to hospice, PG&E volunteers play a critical role in the ceremony by putting up the lights on the trees and taking them down at the end of the year.

Stoddard said hospice will continue to accept donations until the end of the year.

“We still want to keep going because the need is there,” Stoddard said. “Surviving this last year has been difficult for all nonprofits including Hospice of San Joaquin because our work never stops.”