Museum director is Tree of Love honoree

Jill Smith
Jill Smith thanks auxiliary members for dedicating this year's tree to her.
December 10th, 2019     General News

Members of the Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union County Auxiliary dedicated this year’s Tree of Love to Jill Smith.

Smith, director of the Union County Heritage Museum, was honored at the annual tree-lighting ceremony Monday in the hospital cafeteria.

“It’s an honor to be honored like this,” Smith said, “especially considering what you do.”

“It really does take a village,” she added.


Reba Dunson

Reba Dunson announces this year’s honoree.

Reba Dunson, who is auxiliary coordinator, welcomed Smith, telling about the Thaxton native’s career as a newspaper editor before coming to head the museum. “She juggles a lot of activities and has never dropped the ball,” Dunson said.

Recently-named hospital administrator and CEO James

James Grantham

New hospital CEO James Grantham welcomes everyone to the program.

Grantham opened the program, noting the last time he had been to this event was in 2011 and reiterating his appreciation for what the auxiliary does.

Ministerial director the Rev. Nathan Hamilton gave a brief devotional using a “Peanuts” comic strip character as an example. He noted that the only time Linus ever relinquished his blue security blanket was when he came to the phrase “fear not” in the Nativity story. “The birth of Jesus separates us from out fears,” he said.

Rev. Nathan Hamilton

The Rev. Nathan Hamilton gives the devotional.

This is the 26thyear for the event.

Each year the auxiliary asks the public to pay $5 to honor or memorialize someone with a light on the Tree of Love. Those who are honored, or their families, may receive special acknowledgment cards and be recognized publically in news media.

The tree lights are turned on at the ceremony when the auxiliary members announce who they are dedicating the year’s tree to. The selection is to recognize outstanding community service.

The Auxiliary was founded in 1989, growing out of a volunteer group from the Union County General Hospital that began in 1987.

The volunteers have given well more than 100,000 hours in service to the hospital and about $300,000 has been invested into projects to help purchase equipment and items for the hospital.

Those projects include purchasing 14 “crash carts” at a cost of $30,000, a Central Node Unit at a cost of $21,000; a helicopter pad at a cost of $15,000; osteoporosis equipment at a cost of $15,000; a walking track with repairs costing $8,200; simulation lab equipment costing $7,400 and animals for pediatric patients ($18,000).

The Auxiliary operates the Gift Shop as its main source of revenue to fund projects for the hospital.

The volunteers also deliver juice and mail to the hospital patients. The organization also accepts donations of magazines that can be given to patients, caregivers and families as well as distributed in the waiting rooms.  Book donations are also accepted and will be sold in the Gift Shop at a small fee or can be given to patients and their family members during their stays.

Donations may be made and Tree of Love order forms are available at the hospital gift shop, from Auxiliary members or by calling Reba Dunson at 662-538-2101 or emailing

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