Spreading the gift of love is one of the focuses behind the Tree of Love at Sampson Regional Medical Center. The tree not only shines to symbolize the love of community members, but a community member is honored every year as part of a long-standing tradition.
An annual event brought to the community by the SRMC Foundation, the Tree of Love was started in 1989 by the Sampson County Medical Society Alliance. SRMC took over ownership of the Tree of Love as a project for the Medical Ladies Auxiliary group in 2006 and since that time, well over $100,000 has been raised to fund several hospital projects, including the recent expansion of the hospital emergency department and the purchase of medical equipment and renovations of lobbies and waiting rooms.
Every year, on the first Sunday in December, the tree is illuminated, and the lights continue to burn throughout the month of December. The lighting ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4, on the lawn of the Woodside Professional Building.
According to Amber Cava, executive director for the Foundation, this ceremony is a way to recognize a loved one during the Christmas season. As part of the Tree of Love project, an individual or couple in the community are honored. And this year, that honoree is the late Cynthia McLamb Warren, who worked as a nurse for the hospital.
“The lights on the tree, even the star, have a special meaning and are a great way to symbolically recognize someone,” Cava said.
This year, donations will be designated toward the purchase of a Gamma Finder Cordless probe, a piece of advanced, intraoperative technology used to locate lymph nodes by their radioactivity for the detection of malignant tissue.
This year’s Tree of Love ceremony will honor McLamb, who worked for the hospital for 28 years, before her untimely death in August. A lifelong resident of Sampson County, Warren left her mark on many, including her family, friends, community, church and the hospital. According to Cava, as a registered nurse in the PACU department, she was known by her patients for her kind, compassionate, caring and skilled bedside manner.
“(Cindy) was a model employee, for she always put her patients first, and she enjoyed providing care for the community she grew up in and lived in,” Jacquelyn Butler, director of surgical services, said. “She was always the first to volunteer to come in early, stay late, or cover call for a coworker, and provide comfort to anyone in need.”
Warren was the daughter of the late Thomas Avery McLamb and Jackie Spell McLamb. She spent her entire nursing career at Sampson Regional Medical Center, where she mentored many of the hospital’s current nurses.
“Cindy was the first person I met when I came to Sampson Regional for my interview,” Abby Waters, operating room nurse, said. “She was the sweetest, most kind lady and it made me want to become and employee here even more. She will be remembered for her kind, caring spirit and I will truly miss seeing her smile. She was always happy and you could tell that she truly loved her job.”
Warren is survived by her husband of 35 years, William Houston Warren, and her daughters, Meredith Warren Stewart and Kathryn Warren Saylors.
Monica Puryear, PACU nurse, said Warren served as her mentor and she can still remember her sweet, gentle spirit and kindness and positivity she shared with everyone.
“Cindy took me under her wing as a young nurse and served as a mother figure here at work and was always able to provide a listening ear to all who came into contact with her,” Puryear shared. “When I am having a tough day at work, I am reminded of Cindy’s positive attitude and her genuine smile always shines through.”
While Warren was known for her loving nature, Cava said she also remembers the delicious Hershey chocolate cake she cooked.
“I always knew if we had something at the hospital that we could count on Cindy having that Hershey cake,” Cava said.
Cava said she didn’t know Warren as well as many of the other staff members, but that she possessed a lot of respect for Warren as an individual and as a nurse.
“She was a cheerleader for this hospital,” Cava explained. “Everyone knew they could always count of Cindy to do what she said she was going to do and do it with a smile.”
This year’s Tree of Love campaign will fund the purchase of a piece of technology that will be used in the operating room and assist with finding lymph nodes.
Last year’s project designated funds to go towards the ongoing Emergency Room renovation and expansion that helps accommodate a growing number of patients. According to Cava, some of the other recent projects have included the purchase of cameras in the ICU waiting room and safe suite, cardiac monitors for the surgical unit, a cardiac rehab crash cart and a wound bed for skilled nursing.
Gifts can be made by cash, check or major credit card in any amount and in honor of anyone. That special person will receive a card from the Foundation acknowledging that a gift has been made in their honor or in memory of a loved one. Cava said many have, in lieu of greeting cards and other gifts, annually given Tree of Love donations in honor of co-workers, employers, family members, friends and others.
Donor forms are available at the hospital website, www.sampsonrmc.org/TreeofLove, and can also be picked up at the Foundation Office, which is located within the main entrance of the hospital to the right. Forms can also be mailed by request by calling 910-596-4269.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.