I love the name of this event: Baskets of Love. I thought immediately about the kinds of things to put in it: balloons, an amaryllis that will grow in a window, a Snuggie, and warm socks, an annoying toy.

Thatís because these baskets are going to Hospice Care of America patients to remind people who are nearing the end of life that they are loved and remembered.

Hospice care is so important for both the person with the terminal illness and for the family that surrounds them. All are struggling to maintain a semblance of their routines when illness is a constant reminder of change and mortality.

And yet there is joy and silliness in the limited time left, too, and hospice workers know that they have to speak the truth when needed, but also to bring a smile and the relief of a regular visitor in the midst of struggle.

Hospice workers not only bring medical advice, they are friendly faces who join in the journey. Their counsel can range from how to find health care products that bring momentary relief to how to find sitters so caregivers can have a little time off.

So for this first Baskets of Love event, it is easy to get involved. This is a project where families, groups, churches or individuals can create a basket full of goodies to brighten the day of one of hospiceís patients.

Some patients are facing long days alone without families, and the baskets will remind them that they are loved by others. And caregivers, especially for someone who is sick for a long time, have little time for themselves, so a basket would be a great surprise.

You have to get creative with this, though. Itís a little different from piling in a bunch of canned goods and a ham, although thatís great if a family needs food. But often hospice patients canít eat or drink very well, so other kinds of surprises are good. How about a CD of music and an inexpensive player. A really big card so guests can sign their good wishes. A small pillow to prop under a sore back or arm. A joke book for all to share. A suncatcher for a window that streams in the sunlight. A toy to keep visitors occupied.

The possibilities are endless, and gifts made by hand are especially cherished by those going through this kind of stress.

And these are also Valentineís gifts, so you can go crazy on the red and white theme with lots of hearts and, yes, a few flowers.

Hospice Care of America is making it easy to contribute a basket. They have set up locations all around Charleston, including fire departments in Goose Creek, Summerville and North Charleston; at Virginia College; and Hospice Care of America at 9217 University Blvd. Suite C-1-D in North Charleston.

The locations are available until Feb. 8. The baskets will be delivered the week of Valentineís Day. All you have to do is fill the basket and call 797-0768.

What a nice way to show someone you love them, even if they are complete strangers to you.

Reach Stephanie Harvin at 937-5557 or sharvin@postandcourier.com.