THOMASVILLE -- Devante Mayfield looked like a boy who could use some holiday cheer.

Dressed in a hospital gown, an IV tube hanging from his small arm, Mayfield had a front row seat Monday at Archbold Memorial Hospital's 18th annual Tree of Lights program. As children danced to holiday favorites around an enormous Christmas tree, there the young patient sat, quietly taking it all in.

Last week, Mayfield developed a breathing problem due to an abscess in his throat. After coming out of the intensive care unit Saturday, his mother, Peggy Laster, thought the holiday program would do him some good.

As it turns out, the Tree of Lights event -- a fund-raiser for Hospice of Southwest Georgia, which provides care to terminally ill patients and their families -- has done a lot of good over the years.

Throughout the holidays season, the Archbold Foundation accepts gifts in honor or memory of loved ones. Those names are added to a tribute book located in the hospital's main lobby, and all family members receive gift cards.

"It gives us the opportunity to come together as a community and celebrate the season," said Archbold Medical Center President Ken Beverly. "It's a great way to honor a loved one, or to memorialize someone."

The event began in 1987 as a fund-raiser for the Lewis Hall Singletary Oncology Center, which was then under construction. The proceeds have gone to Hospice for the last 11 years. Beverly said close to $225,000 have been raised since the event began.

Beverly said Hospice has served some 400 families in 2005 and continues to serve from 130 to 140 patients each month.

This year, the Archbold Tree of Lights was adorned with ornaments made by students from MacIntyre Park Middle School and Brookwood School. Archbold supporters Theresa and Joe Brown lit the Christmas Tree. Steve and Blanche Gordon lit the Menorah in honor of Chanukah.

The First Unity Missionary Baptist Church Youth Choir, led by director Sharon Wilson, sang seasonal favorites "Silent Night," "Joy to the World," and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."

The Bishop Hall Charter School Chorus, led by director Carolyn Henry, sang the "Let There Be Peace Medley," as well as a medley of "Deck the Halls," and "Angels We Have Heard on High."

Following the program, the children were treated with a visit from Santa Claus, who handed out candy canes to the audience.

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