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Heartland Mall Christmas trees honor lost loved ones

By Betty Nguyen, bnguyen@ktxs.com
Published On: Dec 02 2013 08:05:49 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 02 2013 09:06:03 PM CST
EARLY, Texas -

The holiday season can be a rough time for people who have lost loved ones, but a woman in Brown County is finding a way to spread Christmas cheer to those dealing with such circumstances.

The Bereaved Parents Support Group leader, LaFreda Kilburn, got the idea about 17 years ago to organize Christmas trees in which people could place ornaments in honor of friends and family members who have passed away.

You can find two of them at Early's Heartland Mall in front JC Penney.

"The holiday seasons are the hardest time of the year. People have depression and sadness because they're missing someone at their Christmas holidays," Kilburn said.

Over the past years, the number of ornaments have increased from about 200 to 500. Once the ornaments are added, they get placed on the tree every year.

"It's saddening every year to add ornaments. Everyone hurts when they've lost a loved one."

There will be a candlelight event on Dec. 8th, where all of the names on the ornaments will be read, and poems and songs will be shared. Kilburn said this is an opportunity for the community to grieve together, show each other compassion, and celebrate with loved ones in spirit.

"They'll be missing at Christmas with the rest of the family but we can give them one evening during the holiday season."

Kilburn said she expects 150 to 200 people to attend.

She said she was inspired to become part of the group after her son was killed on a railroad crossing in Bangs about 20 years ago. "He wouldn't expect any less of me...He was just the one everybody went to. I do it in honor of him."

If you want to honor someone and put an angel on the tree, you can call Kilburn at (325) 998-1567 and she or a member of the Bereaved Parents Support Group will create one for you for free.