Families purchase Gundersen love lights to remember loved ones

LA CROSSE, Wi. (WEAU)-- Gundersen in La Crosse held its love light celebration Monday afternoon.

Each light on the Christmas tree represents a person who has been honored by a loved one.

The lights are available to purchase for $5 and all profits are donated.

"The money that we raise, we use for scholarships for children of the people who work at Gundersen Clinic who apply for scholarships and that are going into a healthcare field," said Linda Gillette, president of Gundersen Partners.

Gundersen says the money is also used to fund scholarships for its teen volunteers, as well as different Gundersen departments and charitable organizations in the community.

The lights have been around for more than three decades and in La Crosse hundreds have been purchased this year.

For some, the lights are the perfect way to keep the memory alive for a loved one who has passed.

"It's important to me because there are people I can't gift to, the ones who have passed away, and it gives me the feel good to do something after they're gone," said Bonnie Hicks, a love lights purchaser. "[It helps] especially that first year after a person has passed, to know that you put a light on the tree in their memory."

The names for whom the love lights have been purchased for are on display by the tree.

For some, they say they purchase the lights every year for their loved ones, making it a new Holiday tradition.

"There's a lot of members within our Partner organization that do it every year because they just really want to recognize and thank all of the people that are a part of their lives," Gillette said.

The President of Gundersen Partners herself purchases the lights every year for her parents.

"I donate every year in honor of them for what they've done and my sister was a nurse here for 45 years and I donate to thank her for what she did for 45 years," Gillette said.

The lights can be purchased through the end of the year.