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A tree of hope

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It seems like these days anytime the news is on, there is coverage about some type of shooting or another. Not even a month ago, people across the nation were shook as news of the Uvalde school shooting began to stream across social media and national news.

“After the school shooting in Texas I was sick, horrified, angry, frustrated. I flipped through every emotion and could not shake my feelings of wanting to do something,” shared Ali Hyde Marshfield resident and third grade teacher at Marshfield R1 School District. “I contacted senators and representatives but that didn’t seem like enough.” 

As the days went on, Hyde continued to think about the incident in Texas. She knew she wanted to make a difference in how people have hard conversations, especially with kids, about these types of things.

“A friend (Susan Foglesong) posted on Facebook asking for book recommendations to help children process what had happened and asking advice on how to help them. We got to talking and I mentioned how when I visited Iceland I toured this huge cathedral and inside was a prayer tree,” explained Hyde. 

It was through this conversation with Foglesong, and her reflection over her time spent at the Hallsgrimskirkja Cathedral located in Reykjavik, Iceland, that the idea came to her. “…There were strings of every color on a table beside the tree and each color represented something different…People would pick the strings they wanted and tie them on the tree. Some prayed, some just sat and reflected. It was amazing…” shared Hyde

Susan Foglesong is the Children’s Ministry Director at the Marshfield United Methodist Church. “I am an educator. I am also a parent and actively involved in the community. Currently I am using these tools in the Children’s Ministry and Community Outreach,” explained Foglesong. 

Together the two began to plan. The goal: create a prayer tree in Marshfield. “We need a way to express the tangle of emotions that come when horrific events like this happen,” shared Foglesong. “My heart is broken for people I don’t even know…” 

Hyde and Foglesong are hopeful the prayer tree will encourage people to come together in the same space and feel safe to share their fears while lifting each other up. 

“We want to see our community come together in a united focus….everyone seems so divided lately and I think we would both like this to bring people together,” explained Hyde.

And bring people together it will: on Sunday June 26. Hyde and Foglesong will be hosting a “kick off” at 6:00 p.m. The prayer tree will be located at the Marshfield United Methodist Church- outdoors by the fire pit and sitting area. The pair hopes the entire community will show up and tie a ribbon to the tree.

“We want to involve everyone regardless of religious affiliation or denomination. My hope is that people have an outlet to share and express their concerns…That they feel seen and heard and know they aren’t alone. My hope is to help others process their feelings, their grief, and their hopes,” shared Hyde. 

“This truly is a team effort between Ali and I,” expressed Fogelsong. “We want to create a space for community…When we join together and form bonds, we become stronger together.”

“…Hopefully there will be lots of ribbons tied to the tree and as people drive by they see the colors and remember the purpose…remember how important our kids, our community, and our country is. And maybe they will remember to pray,” added Hyde. 

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