MIAMI COUNTY — A small Ohio State University themed Christmas tree was often the only source of light and holiday cheer when Lisa Kendall-Maxson was hospitalized following a stem cell transplant procedure during the holidays in 2011.
Away from her home and her family, Kendall-Maxson shared how that small, artificial Christmas tree inspired her to spread some holiday hope through the second annual Operation Christmas Cheer.
The annual event encourages families and businesses to decorate artificial Christmas trees or wreaths, which are then distributed to Hospice of Miami County patients as well as a few that travel to the Ohio State University James Cancer Center in Columbus.
“After spending Christmas in the James Cancer hospital in 2011 — four years ago — it was very depressing. I’m sure a lot of these patients are depressed during the holidays,” she said. “What brought me the Christmas cheer was when (husband) Tom’s aunt brought me a little tree and some days that was the only light in my room. So I was just hoping that this would help other patients like it did for me.”
Last year the event donated 175 trees to families in hospice care or at the university hospital. This year, approximately 150 trees will be dispersed to patients around the Miami Valley.
On Monday, Kendall-Maxson stopped at the A.M. Leonard of Piqua, one of many groups who donated trees this year.
“How awesome! Isn’t this so cool?” Kendall-Maxson exclaimed as she entered the A.M. Leonard break room where 20 3-foot tall artificial trees lined up on tables ready for their new homes.
“They’ll be going to Hospice of Miami County homes in Tipp City, Covington as well as to nursing homes and institutions.”
Kendall-Maxson said she receives Christmas trees from all over the Miami Valley including Clark, Darke and Montgomery counties from families and businesses. Kendall-Maxson and her Operation Christmas Cheer crew delivered the Christmas trees to patients this past week.
“People have turned this into what they do on Thanksgiving,” she shared. “While the guys are watching football, the ladies are making trees. And now the guys are making trees, too.”
The Piqua company purchased the trees and offered employees a chance to “adopt-a-tree” for Operation Christmas Cheer as a company holiday project. Each department decorated a tree in a variety of themes — including a candy tree, peacock feathers, and an American flag-themed tree, all adorned with festive decorations.
“I had supported Operation Christmas Cheer personally last year. I thought it would be a fun way to get the company involved as well as getting the employees involved,” said Angela Lewis, A.M. Leonard human resource generalist on Monday.
Lewis shared how the company supported the project due to many people and families Hospice of Miami County serves each and every year.
Within an hour of announcing the adopt-a-tree project at work, Lewis said all 20 trees were spoken for and the decorating began.
“They really got in to it, you can see that,” Lewis said. “They all came up with their own themes and decorations.”
A.M. Leonard’s creative department also penned a special message, which accompanied the tree and its final destination. The message reads: “Christmas is around the corner, and look what we have done. We’ve decorated a Christmas tree, and boy we sure had fun. ‘Though it’s more than just a Christmas tree, this special gift to you — We’re also sending happy thoughts and love, to last the season through. So enjoy the glow of this little tree, and all the lights as they shine, we hope it brings some extra joy this year at Christmas time.”
For more information about Operation Christmas Cheer, search for the event on Facebook.
Reach Melanie Yingst at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @Troydailynews