JOPLIN, Mo.–Four State residents are ringing in the holiday season with an annual tradition.
Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Four States hosted the 18th annual Gift of Light, Gift of Love tree lighting ceremony Thursday evening. Hundreds of visitors gathered at Northpark Mall to enjoy a Christmas performance, carols, stories from families who’ve stayed at the Ronald McDonald House, and of course, the tree lighting.
This event is the non-profit’s largest fundraiser and this year, staff hope to raise $150,000. Money raised from the tree lighting gives parents the option to stay close to their sick children.
“We so appreciate our donors, our volunteers who help put up the tree, everybody that comes together to make this happen every year,” event chairperson Amanda Mitchell explained. “This is our 18th year to do the tree and it’s just such a fun event and a great way to kick off the holidays.”
New to this year’s tree lighting ceremony is a holiday decor and ornament sale. Decorations and ornaments displayed during previous tree lightings will be available for purchase.
All proceeds from this pop-up store help fund the Ronald McDonald House and the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Mercy Hospital.
“The house for every night that the family is there, we ask them $10 a night and if they can’t afford that $10, then actually, events like this underwrite that cost and that’s just one less stress for a family with a seriously ill child,” said Executive Director Annette Thurston.
The ornament sale will continue through Sunday evening at Northpark Mall.