ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – The Christmas tree recently vandalized in Eldridge Park that was put up in memory of those lost to suicide has been replanted and redecorated.
Deb Maxwell, founder of Smile through the Storms, told 18 News that the Elmira City Parks Department removed the vandalized tree and replanted a new one that already is full of decorations.
“I (representing all members of the group Smile Through The Storms support group for survivors of suicide) want to send a huge heartfelt thank you out to the team of guys from the City Building/Parks Depart – Kyle Sullivan and team, and all the amazing people in the community that reached out to me wanting to assist any way possible to turn this event around,” Maxwell said.
After being up for only a week and a half, the original tree was found severely vandalized earlier this week. Someone allegedly broke the angel ornaments, cut off the lights, and dragged the tree to a nearby river.
Members of the group were heartbroken.
“All of the survivors there we’ve been through our own personal hell of losing a loved one to suicide. The person, or people, that found it necessary within their minds to go through, and destroy something like this… It’s cruel and it’s heartless,” said Maxwell.
Maxwell hopes to get a tree securely planted in Eldridge Park, so that group members and other suicide survivors can always have a place to go, and decorate in the future.