Under a warm, late summer sun, several hundred people gathered at C. M. Wilson Conservation Area Sunday afternoon to remember loved ones who’ve died during the past year.
The occasion was the 18th annual dedication service for the McKinlay Woodlands in which a tree is planted to mark the life of someone in the community.
More than 5,200 trees have been planted since the effort began; 340 in the last year alone.
The project is a joint effort of the funeral home and the foundation of the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority.
In an emotional address, Rob McKinlay thanked his staff, the foundation, Rev. Paul Millward and the many volunteers who made the event possible.
“This is the highlight of our year,” he said. “It’s been said that no one plants a tree for himself but for those who follow them.”
The trees planted by the foundation are all native Carolinian species that is “even more important now with the disappearance of so many rural woodlots.”
Rev. Millward called the woodlands “a sacred place” which holds the memories of so many wonderful lives lived.
Don Pearson of the LTVCA foundation said his group is “deeply grateful” for the support of the community.
“You’re making a difference one seedling at a time.”