Celebrate A Life returns to Hillside

Hillside teams up with Victoria Hospice to help residents pay tribute to long lost loved ones

Victoria Hospice and Hillside shopping centre are helping to keep long lost loved ones part of our holiday season.

The 31st annual Celebrate A Life launches Thursday at Hillside. Since 1985, Celebrate a Life has provided a unique opportunity for the community to celebrate loved ones during the holiday season by hanging a personalized tribute ornament. The tree will be located across from Bombay at Hillside shopping centre, near the Shoppers Drug Mart entrance, until Dec. 12.

Victoria Hospice CEO Mischelle vanThiel will be joined by a pair of special guests for Thursday’s 10 a.m. launch. Four-year-old Sophie has been raising funds since aged two in memory of her beloved grandpa who spent his last few weeks at Victoria Hospice. She will hang the first ornament alongside well-known Saanich philanthropist Rudi Hoenson, who lost his wife Sylvia some years ago. Hoenson will donate $2 for every tribute (up to $5,000) hung on one of the festive trees or online at the virtual Celebrate A Life Tree.

“Victoria Hospice holds a special place in our hearts,” says Sophie’s mother Erin Dopko. “Sophie had a deep bond with her grandpa and spent loads of time with him at Hospice – playing, reading and even watching TV.”

On her second birthday, Sophie donated a bird feeder to the Victoria Hospice rooftop garden, while her fourth birthday party featured a game called Coin Drop 4 Hospice, with funds raised matched by her family.

“Each year we give a bit to keep memories close by,” said Dopko. “We want to encourage others to support Victoria Hospice so that other families in need can get the same high-quality care dad received.”

The event supports Victoria Hospice’s commitment to care through bereavement services offered to friends and family members, who can often have a difficult time during the holidays following the death of a loved one.

“Memories of past celebrations with family and friends who are no longer here can magnify feelings of loss,” said vanThiel. “It can be helpful to share your concerns, feelings and apprehensions with someone. Let people know what is difficult for you, and accept offers of help.”

The website victoriahospice.org offers useful information for grieving families including Bereavement Tips for Special Holidays.