By TRAVIS HANDY
For those experiencing loss and grief, every day may be a struggle. This is especially true during the holidays, and Good Samaritan Hospice is doing its part to help people coping with loss through a special program this holiday season. Hope and Hot Chocolate is a special program for people experiencing loss and grief during the holiday season, giving people a chance to enjoy the practical guidance of grief and loss professionals. The program emphasizes ways to identify and meet one’s own emotional needs while enjoying the meaning and spirit of the season. The program is open to the community, families and extended families served by Good Samaritan Hospice. The event will include a presentation by Tamie Hall, a bereavement coordinator for Good Sam. “(The presentation) goes over some things that people will be facing during the holidays and suggestions on how they can deal with them and plan for the holidays, to make it through as best they can,” said Hall. The Hope and Hot Chocolate program is also presented at facilities throughout the community, such as Warm Hearth’s Kruntje Center, Heritage Hall and other locations. After the program, participants are given an opportunity to share their loss if they would like and provide support for one another. “We get a lot of good support that way,” said Hall. “Individuals are seeing that they are not alone for the holidays. They’re not the only ones suffering like this through the holidays.” The next Hope and Hot Chocolate program will be held Dec. 11 at 5:30 p.m. at Good Sam’s main office at 1160 Moose Drive, Christiansburg. In addition to Hope and Hot Chocolate, Good Sam will celebrate the lives of loved ones again this year through its annual “Love Light Tree” program. The trees represent remembrances of those who are no longer here. The program supports end-of-life care in the Roanoke and New River Valleys. A Love Light Tree will be located in New River Valley and Tanglewood (Roanoke) malls. Each branch on the trees will hold the name of someone who is being remembered or honored by a loved one. “By participating in the Love Light Tree program you will not only light up the holidays for someone you love, you will aslo help Good Sam to light up the holidays for a terminally ill person in our community,” Good Sam’s Director of Community Relations, Cindy Hagerman, said in a press release. “Anyone can participate. It’s an opportunity to help those who need hospice care, as well as remember and recognize the special people in your own life.” For a tax deductible donation of $10, a “love light” paper ornament will be placed on the tree of your choice. The name of a loved one will remain on the tree throughout the holidays. For a $25 donation, individuals receive a hand-made porcelain ornament to keep or to have sent to someone as a gift. The Love Light Trees will officially be lit Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 10 a.m. at Tanglewood Mall and Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 10 a.m. at New River Valley Mall during remembrance ceremonies. The public is invited to attend. Good Samaritan Hospice is a not-for-profit, community based hospice. Memorial gifts, grants and programs like the Love Light Trees insure Good Sam’s ability to continue providing their services to the communities at large. Donation forms are available at either mall or by calling Good Sam at 381-3171 in the NRV and (540) 776-0198 in Roanoke. Downloadable forms are available at www.goodsamhospice.org.