Lakeland lights Tree of Love

By By JOANNA ARNETT / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Under the chilly Wednesday night sky, dozens of people eagerly awaited the 2003 lighting ceremony of the Midge Tyler "Tree of Love" near the riverfront by Lakeland Hospital in Niles.
PFC Edan Valkner, a recruiter from South Haven, was invited to come down and switch on the tree lights on the majestic blue spruce, after which everyone sang "Silent Night."
Before traipsing outside, people warmed their tummies with cookies and their hearts with a poem recited by Lucy McCauslin and a song by PFC Valkner and members of the Payne family.
Christine Vella, volunteer coordinator for Lakeland Hospital, welcomed everyone and invited them to talk with PFC Valkner and enjoy the bite-size cake treats.
People who wish can buy a light to illuminate on the tree with a donation of $5 or more. Although many people buy the lights in remembrance of a departed loved one, lights can also be used for people you want to be remembered.
Lights can be bought throughout December and all donations will go toward the purchase of a pediatric aerosol oxygen tent.
The memorial tree was renamed the Midge Tyler "Tree of Love" for the woman who put so much time and care into the community. She was a volunteer at Lakeland Hospital and after passing away last year, the Lakeland Auxiliary decided to name the tree after her
John and Kathy Shepler of Niles attended Wednesday's ceremony.
The Sheplers agreed that the ceremony was beautiful but not very well attended.
Lucille Brigham of Buchanan thought the tree was beautiful.

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