Canuck Place invites public to Light a Life

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      Losing a child due to illness is probably the most pain a parent would ever have to live through.

      In such times, having help to ease the suffering of the child and the family’s sorrow is a blessing.

      Since opening the doors to its Glen Brae Manor in Vancouver in 1995, Canuck Place Children’s Hospice has been providing comfort to children with life-threatening conditions and their loved ones at no cost. In 2014, a second facility, the Dave Lede House, opened in Abbotsford.

      In its latest year of operation (ending March 2017), the hospice cared for 715 children and families from across B.C., a six-percent increase from the previous year.

      Amid these festive times, Canuck Place is one of many well-intentioned organizations worthy of support.

      During the holiday season, anyone can contribute to the hospice through its Light a Life campaign. With no minimum amount required, a donor can turn on a virtual light to celebrate someone special.

      “What we’re trying to achieve is giving gifts of meaning, instead of another pair of socks or tie or a purse. So what we do is we’re encouraging our donors to upload photos: maybe of someone, of their favourite memories; maybe of the person that they’d like to give a gift to,” Denise Praill, managing director of development with Canuck Place, explained in a phone interview with the Georgia Straight.

      “So I’m thinking about my mom. I could upload a photo of my mom and two daughters together and wish my mom a merry Christmas, and that greeting stays on the Canuck Place website, that I made a gift in her honour, and then she can go there and see it and you can also share it on social media,” Praill continued.

      Light a Life runs until December 31 this year. According to Praill, a donor can light a virtual light for anybody.

      “It could be a hostess. If you’re going to a Christmas party, instead of bringing, you know, napkin ring holders, you could make a $25 gift to Canuck Place, and you could recognize it online and let people know,” she said.

      Light a Life is meant to honour both the living and the dead.

      “We also have several family members of children of Canuck Place; they like to remember their children, children who have passed, and this type of campaign helps them remember,” Praill noted.

      Light a Life also ties in with the holiday lighting-up of the Glen Brae Manor in Shaughnessy, an annual tradition to thank donors and supporters.

      On Thursday (December 7), more than 60,000 festive lights decorating the hospice and its gardens will be switched on by the Cunninghams, one of the families staying at Canuck Place.

      Dwayne and Angela Cunningham are parents to two daughters. Their youngest child, Lumina, is a one-year-old who suffers from a genetic disorder that affects the development of her muscles, brain, and eyes.

      “We’re taking a cue that each tiny life that we see is one of those lights, so it’s just a really nice connection between our traditional lighting of the house and our fundraising,” Praill said. “So we’re always trying to tell our story in a really holistic way: that it is centred on the children and families. We bring them joy by lighting lives or lighting the house, and our donors help us light, I guess, each of their lives with their generosity.”