Shasta Elementary School sixth grader Sofia Rodrigues put a definite sparkle of youth into the Wednesday night lighting of the Hospice Christmas Tree outside the southwest corner of Doctors Hospital at North Street and Cottage Avenue.
Rodrigues’ artwork was chosen to grace the cover of the Hospice program for the tree lighting event where the lights represented the souls of those Manteca-area residents who had been lost to disease during the past year and beyond. Her art was chosen by her teacher Tara Meranda and Principal Audrey Greene.
The sixth grader reacted with a broad smile when she was presented with a framed copy of her artwork by Gary Spaugh of the Hospice Board of Directors. She said she has been drawing for about four years and loves to write as well.
Manteca Police Chaplain Arabella Whitlock gave a stunning invocation at the beginning of the solemn event with a crowd of some 200 family members flocked together beneath the large evergreen tree just south of the doctors parking lot. It was evident that her intent was to touch the hearts of those gathered before her to help ease their grieving during this Christmas season.
DHM Chief Executive Officer Brandon May welcomed the crowd and offered his concerns over their family members represented in the tree lighting ceremony.
The family of the late Virginia Hawk was honored in their presence and help switch on the hundreds of colored lights on the tree. The family members included daughters Michelle Burton, Cheryl Lambert and Donna Ramos; grandchildren, Ashley Burton and Brandon Burton; and great grandchildren Brandon Burton Jr., Isabella Burton and Iliana Burton.
The hospital staff opened the adjacent conference room and hosted the crowd to coffee and cookies and a warm place to sit and stay warm in advance of the tree lighting.
The opening and closing songs were led by Ric Campero.
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