Delaware Hospice holds 30th Festival of Trees

MILFORD — Delaware’s only nonprofit hospice organization celebrated 30 years of its signature fundraiser last weekend as trees and season’s greetings decked their halls in Milford.

Delaware Hospice hosted the Festival of the Trees, a weekend long event that sees some of its top supporters, including Santa Claus.

“We’re really excited that this is our 30th year of the event. It’s really important to what services we can offer to the community,” Assistant Director of Development Janet Luke said.

The organization with professional staff members and nearly 500 volunteers statewide offers bereavement services, New Hope for children, palliative care and hospice care.

“We started out just offering hospice services. But as the needs in the community grew, our services grew. We try to serve the whole family,” Ms. Luke explained.

Festival of Trees features decorated trees donated by local businesses and groups which are then sold to supporters for the season or donated to local organizations such as the Home of the Brave, according to long-time volunteer Bob Byrd.

The event also hosted a bingo tournament Friday afternoon, Santa Claus on Saturday afternoon to meet and greet with local children and a Cheers to 30 Years Party Saturday evening with elegant food, cocktails and live music. Delaware Hospice’s first ever Sip & Shop was held Sunday afternoon to top off the event with vendors and light drinks.

“We’re seeing that people are still giving, but they’re giving less. But, they always come out for this event. It’s really a fun time,” Delaware Hospice CEO and President Susan Lloyd said.

Like many other organizations, Delaware Hospice had to cope with $30,000–40,000 in funding cuts this year after the state of Delaware greatly reduced its grant-in-aid budget, she added. Medicaid cuts will also become a problem for many of Delaware Hospice’s clients.

“So this event will be even more critical to our operations and ensuring we can continue to provide the best services to our area,” Ms. Lloyd said. “Supporting this event has a ripple effect.”

Delaware Hospice also offers support groups, lectures and other events to support local families dealing with the loss of loved ones.

“We cannot give enough praise for what they do here for families,” Etta Moyer of Dover said after her family received care for her cousin, Thelma Miller.

“It is amazing that they could care so deeply for others. It is important.”

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at

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