This photo shows one of the tree stands being made by Homer High School shop teacher Walter Love for a community Christmas tree decoration project, being put on for the residents of South Peninsula Hospital's Long Term Care wing. (Photo courtesy Kari Dendurent)

Trees for cheer: Group plans Christmas tree decoration for Long Term Care residents

Members of the community are invited to decorate the trees

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic throwing a wrench into traditional annual holiday activities, a group of local women are hoping to restore some hope to the community with a public Christmas tree project.

Kari Dendurent is principal at Homer Middle School, and organized the project with a group of other women who are parents of students — Angie Boettner, Tanya Shafer and Joni Wise. The project was not organized by the school or the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.

The group plans to install several Christmas trees in the southwest parking lot at South Peninsula Hospital for the enjoyment of the Long Term Care residents. Once set up, the trees will be in need of decoration, which the group is inviting the community to do.

Trees will be set up on Dec. 11, so families and individuals can start decorating on Saturday, Dec. 12. Dendurent said families are encouraged to make ornaments with their children and to decorate the trees together. It’s a way to be part of the community and have a sense of community, without actually mingling in the community during a pandemic, she said.

“We want people just to do something with their family, just giving back to the community,” Dendurent said.

Residents of Long Term Care will be able to watch the decoration and enjoy the trees through the windows of that wing of the hospital, which overlooks the parking lot.

All state and local COVID-19 precautions and guidelines must be followed when people show up to decorate. The period for tree decoration runs through Christmas, which gives people plenty of time to do so without crowding.

Walter Love, shop teacher at Homer High School, is making and donating the tree stands. The project organizers will install lights that don’t have to be plugged in, but all the rest of the decoration is up to the community. Dendurent said to keep in mind that the trees will be exposed to the elements while on display.

Decorations must be in good taste and appropriate for all ages, and they must hang on the tree, rather than rest alongside the tree. The project organizers will swing by to do periodic maintenance, Dendurent said, and the trees will be taken down and cleaned up on Dec. 30. This is to give people time to come back and reclaim their ornaments if they wish.

Additionally, the group has organized two special trees in particular: the remembrance tree and the hope tree. Dendurent said organizers are creating angel-shaped, laminated ornaments for the remembrance tree, on which people will be able to write the name of a lost loved one with a marker, and hang it on the tree. Similarly with the hope tree, the public is invited to write their hopes for the future on heart-shaped ornaments for display.

“We encourage homemade ornaments as it can bring families together, but also want to show we all have our tree decorating traditions and can come together to create unity in the beauty to bring appreciation to us all,” Dendurent wrote in a later email. “This is the true spirit of Homer.”

For more information, contact Dendurent at 907-299-5599.

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

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