Community honors loved ones lost at 16th annual Tree of Angels ceremony

December 7, 2016 GMT

The Coalition for Victims of Violent Crime held its 16th annual Angel Tree ceremony Tuesday night at the Jefferson County Courthouse. Families who have lost loved ones to violence gathered to support one another as they remembered and paid tribute to those lost, hanging Christmas ornaments in their honor on the tree.

The Angel Tree tradition began in Austin in 1991 by People Against Violent Crime’s Verna Lee as a way of helping those coping with loss through the difficult holiday season. The program thereafter spread to communities throughout the state, with over 50 counties in Texas now holding Tree of Angels events in early December. In 2000, then-governor George W. Bush proclaimed December 4 - 10 Tree of Angels Week in Texas.