HMC gears up for tree lighting

By Todd DeFeo

Natalie Wilkerson, along with some co-workers, untangled strings of lights to place on a Christmas tree along side other ornaments. The job, however, didn't necessarily fit in with Wilkerson's job description.

"It's a nice change of pace," Wilkerson, the director of the Information Technology department at Henry Medical Center, said.

As a member of the Holiday Celebration Committee, Wilkerson took a break from her regular duties Monday to help decorate the hospital's Christmas tree and prepare it for the second annual "From Our Family To Yours." The celebration, open to the public, is set for Thursday evening.

"Now it's like, 'I'm ready to go home and do mine,'" Wilkerson joked.

Festivities will kick off at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in front of the hospital, located on Eagle's Landing Parkway in Stockbridge. The event will be highlighted by the lighting of the Henry Medical Center Christmas tree, musical entertainment by local schools and sleigh rides with Santa.

Georgiana Pennell, a second grader at Pate's Creek Elementary School, won an essay contest held by Henry Medical Center and its Partners In Education schools and will flip the switch to light the Christmas tree. The hospital received about 195 essays from students at Flippen Elementary, Pate's Creek Elementary and Red Oak Elementary schools.

Lexis Howard, a fifth grader at Flippen Elementary School and Tabitha Meadows, fifth grader at Red Oak Elementary School, were selected as runner-ups and will be recognized Thursday.

The first 250 guests to Thursday's festivities will receive a gift from Henry Medical Center, hospital spokeswoman Jennifer Dougherty said.

"I think we'll have a good turnout," Dougherty said, adding there were about 300 people who turned out last year for the first "From Our Family To Yours."