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Let your love light shine: Christmas lights benefit efforts at Vidant Health

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The Christmas tree is lit during a lighting ceremony at Vidant Wellness Center Tuesday evening.

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By Michael Abramowitz
The Daily Refelctor

Thursday, December 7, 2017

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas on the Vidant Medical Center campus. This week’s Lights of Love celebration at Vidant Wellness Center made it official.

One of Greenville’s most noticeable signs of the holiday season, the Lights of Love ceremony heralded the season of giving with a lighting ceremony and musical tribute by the E.B. Aycock Middle School band.

Originated as a tribute to members of the EastCare helicopter crew who perished in flight with their patient on Jan. 8, 1987, the Vidant Health Foundation-sponsored program has since expanded to offer an opportunity for people throughout the region to honor and recognize with a donation individuals important in their lives.

Lindsey Griffin, foundation board chairman and master of ceremonies for the event, was uplifted by the big turnout.

“It means everything to me to see how people love giving,” Griffin said. “This is a wonderful opportunity for them to share their gifts. Events like this one and others that go on at the children’s hospital at this time of year, like the T.A, Loving toy drive, make us think about what this great health system does for the people of eastern North Carolina.” 

Each light on the tree represents a gift of love, a special way to express community appreciation and gratitude, said Janet Mullaney, Vidant Health chief administrative officer and foundation president. 

“There are a lot of lights on this huge tree, from a lot of people who are very important to us,“ Mullaney said. “Each light represents a donor who gave to help Vidant patients. There’s a lot of love on that tree, but there’s never too much. That huge cancer center on the other end of the campus is going to be built because people like those here tonight wanted to give something of themselves. How much each gives doesn’t matter; they all gave because they’re grateful to have Vidant here.” 

In addition to the massive new cancer center, scheduled to open in March, the Vidant Health Foundation also has used donations to fund smaller grass-roots projects during the past year that benefit community health and wellness, Mullaney said..

“We gathered micro-farmers and started a farmers’ market right here, providing them with extra income and our employees with fresh produce,” she said.

The foundation also distributed $1.7 million throughout its 29-county area to educate people on good health practices.

“The people here have health care opportunities, but not everyone has those same opportunities,” the foundation president said. “We work to provide opportunities to those people and educate and encourage them toward better health.”  

The tree and its lights symbolize the act of giving, Vidant Medical Center President Brian Floyd said.

“The greatest thing Vidant does for its community is not economic; it’s about the life we bring to the community by giving people the opportunity to show compassion toward others,” Floyd said. “We represent that with a light, but at the end of the day, it’s what the Vidant team is doing for the people of eastern North Carolina.” 

Scott Senatore, the foundation vice president, said that the staff’s work during the year reminds them of the generosity of people throughout Pitt County and eastern North Carolina.

“Having lights on the tree to remind them of people in their lives who are important to them is fantastic,” Senatore said.

As part of the annual ceremony, the foundation announced Katie Holloman of Eastern Elementary School as this year’s winner of its children’s art contest, open to students in grades K-5, depicting a winter/holiday scene..

Individual Lights of Love in honor of a family member, friend or colleague can acknowledge a special occasion such as birthdays, promotions, anniversaries and births or as an expression of appreciation for a job well done. Donations are $10 or $50 each.

All gifts to Lights of Love benefit Vidant cancer care. Those interested in making such donations can visit online at www.vidanthealthfoundation.com.

Contact Michael Abramowitz at mabramowitz@reflector.com and 329-9507.

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