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"Tree of Remembrance"

ESCAMBIA COUNTY  -  It's an idea that started an ocean away.  It's called the Rotary Tree of Remembrance, and the concept has traveled from Ireland to Pensacola.

Robin Foley of the Rotary e-club of southeast USA and Caribbean says, "The Tree of Remembrance allows people to remember a loved one that has passed away or can't be with them, or just a good friend, in a special way at Christmastime."

Foley says he first heard about the tree on a trip to Cork, Ireland. The project there began in 2004 and raised $3500 in it's first year.  But it's been growing.

"Last year, because of the tradition that has built up in the intervening 10 years with people coming back year after year to place ribbons, they raised $65,000," says Foley.  "So somebody must believe in something here that it's a nice thing to do."

The tree is sponsored by the Pensacola Area Rotary Clubs and the concept is simple.  You write the name of someone special on a ribbon which is added to the tree.  Any donations are passed on to local charities..

On January 4th, the ribbons will be taken to the auditorium at Sacred Heart Hospital for display at an Ecumenical service, and the checks for the proceeds of all the donations will be distributed.

Kris Thoma supports the tree and says it's a good way to remember loved ones.  "I lost my mom 5 years ago, my grandmother died when I was 5, and they're just 2 really special ladies and I know that they would appreciate knowing that remembering them is helping somebody else."

Foley says this is the first Rotary Tree of Remembrance in the United States, and he hopes the concept will grow.  The tree will be at Cordova Mall through December 24th.