Calhoun Tree of Angels ceremony gives families a chance to remember

By by Dianna Wray
Dec. 4, 2010 at 6:04 a.m.

Christmas is always a difficult time of year for Mary Sue Woods.

Ten years ago, Woods' son, Jeffery Woods, was murdered, the victim of a stabbing.

The first Christmas after his death was awful, Woods said.

The next year she decided to do something about it, to find a way to make sure people remembered her son and other victims of violent crime.

"I did it because I needed something to do, I needed to do something. I know how important it is to remember," Woods said.

The Tree of Angels program started in 1991 in Austin, but has expanded around the world over the years.

Calhoun Sheriff B.B. Browning, Victoria Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor and Jackson Sheriff A.J. Louderback will each light a candle of hope. Brooke Ellison, from the Department of Criminal Justice Victims Services, will also take part in the ceremony.

The Praise Team of the First Baptist will sing and the event will be emceed by Dan Heard.

Woods said they expect more than 400 people to attend the event.

An angel will be placed on the tree in honor of each victim and a candle will be lit.

It's important for family and friends to have some place to go, and a way of remembering their loved ones during the holiday season, Woods said.

"One of the most important things is to have the Tree of Angels for the kids. It gives them something positive to look forward to during Christmas time," Woods said.

That first year the Tree of Angels ceremony honored 38 victims of violent crime. Over time the ceremony has grown and 141 victims of violent crime will be honored this year.

"You wouldn't think there are this many people in our community affected by violent crime, but there are," Woods said.



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