MIDLOTHIAN — The lives and memories of crime victims and people who have suddenly passed away will soon be honored in a ceremony hosted by the Midlothian Police Department.

The tree of Angels will be held at 7 p.m. on Dec. 5 at the Shepherd’s House.

“This is an opportunity for us to honor families that have been victimized by crime or have lost loved ones to violent crime or to a sudden death,” Midlothian Police Department Chaplain Larry Atchley said. “The holidays can be hard times for families when they miss their loved ones and not have them around the table. It gives them a venue to remember. So that is kind of what we want to provide for them.”

Atchley explained Midlothian’s Tree of Angels is the only one of its kind in Ellis County. Families and friends are invited to bring an ornament of their choice or making to place on the tree. Ornaments will also be available at the church if needed. Before the placement of the embellishments, a service would be held to discuss grief.

“We have officers from our department that escort them to light a candle on behalf of their loved ones. Then take them and place their ornament on the tree. Then we have a time of refreshments afterward to be able to visit with other family members who have gone through similar situations,” Atchley explained. “The Tree of Angels has been very beneficial. We are having some families that are going to be back from last year. Just for them to return I think says a lot for them to find a benefit to be around other families who have experienced sudden death. It just gives them an outlet and an opportunity just to grieve.”

Atchley stated that the tree will remain on display at the church through Christmas. After the holiday season, the ornaments will be stored at the Midlothian Police Department to be placed on the tree for future services. He added that this event is open to all of Ellis County and encourages the public to attend.

People Against Violent Crime in Austin began The Tree of Angels event in 1991.

Those attending the Tree of Angels are asked to call Atchley at the department to register. He can be reached at the office at 972-775-7651 or by email at larry.atchley@midlothian.tx.us. Registration can also be done the day of the service at the church. The service is free to attend.

The Shepherd’s House is located at 3221 Mockingbird Lane in Midlothian.