San Diego – NOV. 3, 2016 – Mama’s Kitchen and Village Hillcrest will host the 25th annual Tree of Life Tree Lighting Ceremony on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 at 6:00 p.m., at 3965 Fifth Avenue in Hillcrest. The ceremony, which is sponsored by AIDS Healthcare Foundation and considered San Diego County’s premiere event to commemorate World AIDS Day, honors those affected by AIDS and recognizes the ongoing leadership efforts made to end the worldwide epidemic. The event is free and open to the public.

The theme of World AIDS Day 2016 is “Hands Up for #HIVPrevention,” which is backed by the United Nations and focuses on raising awareness of HIV and the importance of HIV education.

Dr. Adam Zweig, Medical Director of AHF San Diego Healthcare Center reminds us that HIV has not gone away and that there are many things still to be done. “Tree of Life is San Diego’s annual event to reflect on our own and our loved ones’ experiences with HIV and AIDS. There are still 50,000 new HIV infections occurring each year in the U.S.—a number that has sadly remained static over the past decade—so World AIDS Day and Tree of Life offer an opportunity for us to reflect, redouble our efforts in prevention, care and treatment as well as to look optimistically to the future.”

At the annual Tree of Life event, a candlelight vigil will be held to commemorate those we have lost to AIDS. Delana Bennett, co-host of “Jesse Lozano in the Morning” on STAR 94.1, will serve as event emcee. Attendees will enjoy holiday tunes from the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus and complimentary refreshments will be served. More than 200 people are expected to attend.

“The annual Tree of Life Ceremony unites the community of San Diego to honor World AIDS Day and those affected by the disease,” said Alberto Cortés, executive director, Mama’s Kitchen. “The ceremony not only provides an intimate setting for community leaders and members to honor those affected it’s also another way to be able to provide support and further our mission of helping those affected by AIDS.”

The trees are decorated with ornaments that honor those who have been affected by HIV/AIDS and will remain on display throughout the holiday season at Village Hillcrest. Ornaments can be purchased online at prior to the event or that evening and personalized with a message. The cost is $15 each or two for $25.

All proceeds from the Tree of Life Ceremony benefit Mama’s Kitchen, San Diego’s only free county-wide meal delivery service for men, women and children affected by AIDS or cancer. During the past 26 years, Mama’s Kitchen has served over eight million meals and has never turned away a client who qualified for our services. In 2015, Mama’s Kitchen delivered, 274,923 meals to 405 San Diegans affected by HIV/AIDS, 70,611 meals to 196 San Diegans affected by cancer, including 46,797 meals to120 children whose parents were affected by HIV/AIDS or cancer.

Community sponsors are needed to support this event. For more information about Tree of Life or to participate in holiday giving opportunities, please call Ben Coyle at (619) 233-6262 or visit

About Mama’s Kitchen

Mama’s Kitchen was founded in 1990 when volunteers from the AIDS Assistance Fund discovered that many of their clients were becoming too ill to take care of themselves. They realized that a reliable home meal delivery service was needed to ensure that these individuals would continue to receive nutritious, life-sustaining food. In 2004, Mama’s Pantry was opened to provide individuals with HIV/AIDS who are able to prepare meals the opportunity to supplement their nutritional needs. During the past 26 years, Mama’s Kitchen has served over eight million meals and has never turned away a client who qualified for our services. Our commitment to our clients remains unchanged and today the organization has expanded its service to San Diegans affected by either AIDS or cancer. Mama’s Kitchen also offers a Nutrition Education Service, led by a registered dietitian, which provides nutrition coaching to HIV-positive residents to assist them in managing their diagnosis through proper nutrition. Mama’s Kitchen provides three meals a day, for every day of the year, free of charge, to approximately 350 men, women, and children in San Diego County each week. Learn more and make a donation at Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.