SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Hospice of Santa Barbara will hold its 37th annual Light Up a Life event this year, though it will be virtual due to the pandemic.
The ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 16 at 6 p.m.
It will bring together people who have lost loved ones, during the always challenging holiday season.
With a suggested $15 donation, people can submit a family member's name, a message and a photo to be included on a digital star, as well as a physical star to be hung on a local Light Up a Life tree.
Those submitting a star can choose to hang it on one of four trees, which are located in Goleta, Santa Barbara, Montecito and Carpinteria.
“We really feel that we’ll be touching a lot more people this year with the event being virtual, which is so, so important,” said Hospice of Santa Barbara CEO David Selberg. “Though we won’t be able to embrace and gather around the trees, we will be able to all tune in and be a participant.”
Tina Fanucchi has been a longtime participant in Light Up a Life, and now sits on the boards of Compassionate Care Carpinteria and the Saint Francis Foundation. She has experienced loss firsthand, losing her younger brother and both of her parents over the past 26 years.
She says the feeling of loss never goes away, and creates a whirlwind of emotions each holiday season.
“It’s sitting with the acknowledgement of how deeply and relentlessly that you miss them,” she said. “I’m very grateful that I have a tribe of people at Hospice of Santa Barbara that gives me the space and the caring and the connection to be with these kind of emotions, and feel ok about it... Not taking away the grief. Learning to live with the grief.”
Fanucchi says Light Up a Life "brings [her] such peace and joy." She is grateful to have an event for the community to come together this year, even if it has to be done virtually.