MODESTO -- O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree ...
Volunteers have decorated the Gallo Center for the Arts lobby for the Fantasy of Trees, a three-day event sponsored by Community Hospice Foundations Friends of Hospice organization.
The fund-raiser began with the Premiere Night Boutique and Tree Auction on Thursday night. Among the trees was one decorated by Debbie Cardoza, which included $6,000 worth of travel vouchers to be used anywhere in the world. The tree is sponsored by Prime Shine carwashes.
A holiday luncheon and boutique begins at 10:30 a.m. today, followed by the Santa Shares Breakfast (tickets are available at the door at $5 for children, $10 for adults) from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday.
The event will benefit Gabriel's Friends, which provides pediatric hospice services for families in the Central Valley.
"Medical (insurances) don't cover hospice care until you're 18 years old," said event co-chairwoman Meryl Snyder. "There were 15 children in hospice last year."
Gabriel's Friends is named in memory of Peter Gabriel Gomez-Sandoval, a leukemia patient who became the subject of a Bee column in 2004 after a blood drive drew more than 400 donors. One of them was a bone marrow match albeit too late for Gabriel. He died at 19 in January 2005.
Snyder said she hopes this year's Fantasy of Trees events will raise at least $50,000. Last year, Cardoza designed a tree that included a $2,500 "Miracle on 34th Street" shopping spree at Macy's and sold at auction for $4,800.
The money from Fantasy of Trees is used for support systems for family and friends of terminally ill children, and also support systems for those who lose young family members and friends to suicide.
Lynis Chaffey, Community Hospice Foundation's executive director, said Community Hospice now provides bereavement counseling to underserved schools. The Fantasy of Trees is in its third year, but this is its first both in downtown Modesto and at the Gallo Center, where organizers hope to create more community interest.
For more, go to www.hospiceheart.org.