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Sacred Heart student gives heartfelt donation
Covenant donation
Turlock fifth grader Mara Gemperle (pictured right) presents Cathy Morelli of CovenantCare Hospice with a check for $565 on Friday, which she earned by selling handmade Christmas tree ornaments (ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal).

In the wake of cancelled fundraisers and socially-distanced ceremonies, one donation made to CovenantCare Hospice last week was extra special not because of its monetary value, but because of the effort behind it. 

When 10-year-old Turlock resident Mara Gemperle realized that two of CovenantCare’s largest fundraisers of the year were shut down this year due to COVID, the Sacred Heart Elementary School fifth grader leapt into action. With the help of her mom Brandy Gemperle, she made Christmas tree ornaments out of clay to sell and raise money for the local nonprofit.

“It feels really great,” Gemperle said of her generous endeavor, which raised $565 for CovenantCare. “I really wanted to help people.”

The donation held a special significance for Gemperle, whose great grandmother received services from CovenantCare. The $565 earned by Gemperle was donated to the organization as part of their annual hospice LoveLight event, which sees community members and those who have benefited from CovenantCare services make donations in their loved ones’ honor, which are then represented by lights on a tree which shines during the ceremony. 

Gemperle said she was able to raise so much money for the cause thanks to community members who paid just a bit more than market value for their handcrafted ornaments. When Gemperle and her mom dropped off the check this past Friday, Cathy Morelli of CovenantCare explained the different services the money would help fund: elderly clients whose insurance doesn’t cover a specific medication they need, private nurses to help relieve couples who are caring for each other and even homeless who need a place to stay while they receive end-of-life treatment.

“This was such a sweet gesture from Mara,” Morelli said. “We appreciate this so much, and without the Festival of Trees and Dancing with the Turlock Stars fundraisers this year, it has been tough. Generous donations allow us to continue to give our patients and their families compassionate care regardless of their ability to pay.”

For more information about CovenantCare Hospice or to donate, visit