Tree of Lights campaign goes virtual

A traditional tree lighting ceremony that has been lighting up the night for the past 20 years returned to where it all started: the grounds at St. Francis Memorial Hospital. Above: The hospital choir sings Walking in a Winter Wonderland by the Christmas tree located on the grounds of St. Francis Memorial Hospital (photo SFVH Foundation)

Due to current healthcare directives, the St. Francis Valley Healthcare Foundation’s annual tree lighting ceremony took place virtually on December 4.

St. Francis Valley Healthcare Foundation’s Executive Director Erin Gienow (above right) hosted the event alongside St. Francis/Renfrew-Victoria Chief Operating Officer Julia Boudreau (left, above. Photo SFVH Foundation).

“This wonderful holiday tradition is truly a cherished event that started 20 years ago as a small gathering at the Hospital and later moved to the railway station in Barry’s Bay,” Gienow explained. “This year we lit not one but two trees to mark this very special occasion –our traditional tree was lit at the railway station and we have added a second tree at the hospital where patients have a bird’s eye view of the lights from the activities room.”

Despite the new format, the virtual ceremony stuck to its traditional roots. Music was provided by young local artists including siblings Dexter and Serena Sernoskie, as well as Mya Stein.

Joining the ceremony this year was the hospital choir, singing songs to accompany the tree lighting event.

Although elementary school angels could not be at the event in person, photos were submitted and a slideshow played to acknowledge the angels in spirit.

“These children are very special and have been chosen by their schools because they have demonstrated kindness, compassion and helpfulness in their classroom or school,” Boudreau explained.

Angels included Cassidy Hudder of George Vanier, Emmara Grodet of Killaloe Public, Natalie Trebinskie of St. John Bosco, Tanner Stoppa of Palmer Rapids, Brinley Rutledge of Sherwood Public, Adrienne Lorbetskie of St. Andrew’s, September Eagles of St. Martin of Tours and Xavier Bernaski of Whitney Public.


Dr. Jason Malinowski, Chief of Staff at St. Francis Memorial Hospital, (inset) was the honourary angel and helped light the tree on behalf of the elementary students. Once the tree was lit, the hospital choir sang All Through the Night as St. Francis Memorial Hospital Chief Operating Officer Greg McLeod held a candle to honour and remember loved ones.

This year, the Tree of Lights Campaign is raising $70,000.00 to help purchase critical pieces of equipment/upgrades for the medical unit at St. Francis. This includes a new VAC Therapy System for wound healing, a critical upgrade to the medication dispensing unit, new overbed tables for meals and bedside chairs.

“There is still time to make a donation to our Tree of Lights campaign, which runs until the end of December,” Boudreau said. “It makes the perfect gift for anyone on your list, and allows you to Give the Gift of Healing at the same time.”

To contribute to the campaign, call the Foundation office at 613-756-3045 ext. 217 or visit

The Virtual Tree Lighting Ceremony can be viewed on the St. Francis Valley Healthcare Foundation’s Facebook page or on YouTube by visiting

Hudder,C.,SFVH Foundation(2020,Dec.7) Tree lighting ceremony returns to hospital grounds – Virtual Ceremony celebrates Tree of Lights Campaign [media release]

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