SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., (KRON) — A San Francisco-based startup company launched an initiative to honor frontline heroes who have died fighting the COVID-19 pandemic — offering free memorial trees and services for hundreds of families.

Better Place Forests announced last week it was offering up to $1 million worth of protected memorial trees to support the families who have lost a loved one because of COVID-19.

The initiative is an effort by Better Place Forests to honor healthcare providers, hospital employees, caregivers and first responders who lost their lives fighting the pandemic and by helping the families ease the financial burden of burial arrangements.

“Like most of the country, we’ve been inspired by the bravery of the frontline heroes who are risking their lives every day to help victims of this virus,” CEO and co-founder Sandy Gibson said. “On top of all that our heroes have had to endure, we’re devastated to read that healthcare workers make up approximately 20 percent of the U.S. COVID-19 cases … and that some of these brave heroes have died from this virus.”

For Gibson this initiative hits close to home after losing his father to a stroke and his mother to cancer when he was just a young boy.

In 2015, Gibson founded Better Place Forests with two of his best friends to help families write better endings for their loved ones life stories through private memorial trees.

“When I reflect back on losing my parents, there are memories that will stick with you. I’ll never forget my parents’ burial ceremonies … and I will never forget the image of their grave,” Gibson said.

“These are memories that have never faded with time, and I wish that they were more beautiful. It is so important that the ending to our life story is beautiful. I think a private memorial tree that helps conserve the land it’s on is an example of that.”

A traditional burial and funeral services costs $15,000 on average in the U.S. but with the coronavirus pandemic choosing a resting place for loved ones has become more increasingly more difficult .

The “Memorial Trees for Heroes” will offer families of fallen frontline heroes a chance to reserve a memorial tree and plan for a future ceremony in the serene, peaceful Point Arena forest overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Mendocino County.

“I have my own memorial tree in our Point Arena forest. When I come to visit my tree, it’s so calming to know that I will be there, among all of the natural beauty of the forest, and helping to protect this land for many years,” Gibon said.

For each tree reserved, Better Place Forests plants 25-400 Impact Trees in areas impacted by deforestation or forest fires through their partnership with One Tree Panted.

Gibson tells KRON the company wants to provide frontline heroes that have died protecting our lives by providing them a legacy that will endure for a long time.

“We hope to honor our fallen frontline heroes in any way we can,” Gibson said. “They’ve sacrificed their lives protecting ours, and we hope to provide them with a beautiful legacy of protecting forestland for generations to come.”

For those interested in reserving a “Memorial Trees for Heroes” tree — click here.

Do you know someone who deserves to be recognized? Click here to submit them to be a KRON4 Hero.