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Community Gathers to Replace Memory Tree

LEHIGHTON, Pa. — Up and down the park surrounding the Lehighton borough building, Christmas trees can be seen, decorated by local businesses and families ...

LEHIGHTON, Pa. -- Up and down the park surrounding the Lehighton borough building, Christmas trees can be seen, decorated by local businesses and families who have lost loved ones.

“Each year we have our little incidents, sometimes the lights go out when the rain comes, sometimes an ornament becomes missing, sometimes a tree falls over from the wind! But, unfortunately, this year we had the worst happen, and one of our trees was stolen,” Autumn Abelovsky of the Lehighton Borough Council said.

That tree, a memory tree honoring Nevah Hoffman, a seven-month-old baby who lost her life in a house fire back in 2015. Abelovsky put up a Facebook post alerting the community to what happened and invited them to help replace the tree.

“We wanted everybody just to come out and put up an ornament in memory of Nevah and show the family that everybody does still really care,” Abelovsky said.

People, not just from Lehighton, but neighboring communities, too, came out in full force to help decorate the replacement tree.

“I just felt bad, like, who could do that? Regardless of the memorial, all the trees here are memorials, but particularly for a family that lost an infant, I mean, that's pretty sad to do such a thing,” Wendi Chambeliss of Walnutport said.

Nevah's grandmother watched as strangers came out to honor her granddaughter’s memory.

“To see the posts on Facebook and see that so many people care enough to come and decorate the tree, just so many random acts of kindness from people we don't even know,” Nevah’s grandmother Susan Bloom said.

After seeing the Facebook post, dozens of people came out to decorate the tree with ornaments. Some store-bought, but others have a special meaning.

“It makes me feel happy because we were able to help a little girl that's now in heaven. We picked our three favorite ornaments off our tree to give to this little girl,” Caroline Metro of Lehighton said.

Nevah's family says this may be the start of a new way to honor her life.

“It could become a new tradition, you know, the community decorates Nevah's tree,” Bloom said.