Tribute tree spreads seasonal cheer

News / General
By Anne Rutherford

Environmental Services staff members donate tree for KGH site lobby

What makes a beautiful holiday gift?  Look no farther than the Abramsky lobby at our KGH site.

Standing 12 feet high is a glowing Christmas tree donated to the KGH Auxiliary by Laura and Don McCullough, who both work in KHSC's Environmental Services department. The tree is a tribute to their daughter Mariesa, who passed away at the age of one month old, 18 years ago, and also Laura’s late grandmother Esterina, who worked at the KGH site for 35 years.

“My cleaning work takes me to the front lobby a lot, and I see people sitting or coming in looking worried and stressed,” says Don. “For a long time now, I’ve wanted to do something that would help to cheer them up. I know what it means to have a hard time and to lose someone you love.”

That “something” that Don pondered turned out to be the towering Christmas tree that he, Laura and their children, including a daughter who works as a ward clerk at the KGH site, erected and decorated for the first time on November 30, the anniversary of Mariesa’s passing.

“It was a beautiful day for us all, with lots of laughter, tears and hugs,” says Laura. “We couldn’t have planned it better.”

Among the lights, ornaments and tiny teddy bears, which help to promote the Auxiliary’s seasonal Teddy Bear Campaign, is a small plaque acknowledging the “the loving memory of Mariesa and Esterina.” It will remain with the tree every year going forward.

“We didn’t donate the tree for any kind of recognition, but everyone has been so kind about thanking us,” says Laura. “It’s a bit overwhelming and emotional but in a good way.

“Don and I love our jobs and being a part of the hospital. We work alongside so many amazing people, and we’re lucky that we can interact with patients and families. We sometimes get to make a patient laugh or smile or just be a listening ear while we’re cleaning their space. That kind of connection is very rewarding and means a lot to us.”

And now the McCulloughs are connecting with others through their beautiful Christmas gift.

“Those people who have no tree at Christmas or who can’t get home to their own now have one to enjoy,” says Don. “We’re hoping that by just seeing it or maybe sitting nearby briefly, people will feel their worries ease and find life a bit lighter, even for a few minutes.”