BOISE -- On Friday night, the community came together on the Grove for a magical tradition that so many have been waiting for: the Downtown Boise tree lighting.
Music was playing all night long, with Mayor Dave Bieter lighting the tree just before 7 p.m. But the event and the tree are more than just symbols of holiday cheer - the annual tree lighting represents the season of giving, which is why the tree is named the "Giving Tree".
Hanging on the fence surrounding the tree are tags with a need or want from one of the thousands of clients the Women's and Children's Alliance serves. The organization provides safety, healing and freedom from domestic abuse and sexual assault for women and children.
Anyone is welcome to grab a tag, go shopping for the gift and drop it off at WCA to help fulfill the organization's Christmas Wish List.
"It brings so much awareness to the needs that we have all the time," Women's and Children's Alliance Events Coordinator Emily Fascilla said.
More than 1,000 tags fill the fence surrounding the giant tree.
"These tags are not just presents for the children and our women in the shelter. They're actually really practical items," Fascilla added. "We have tons of diapers on there, paper towels, things to really get us through the holidays and into the new year."
"It's a wonderful organization and it's a good way to donate," Boise resident Mike Hackwell said.
WCA serves women and their kids who might be leaving dangerous environments at home.
"When you're experiencing that trauma, something like Christmas is the last thing on your mind."
So Fascilla says getting a gift from one of these tags means a lot to the women and children in their shelters.
"It is a very emotional reaction for them each year," Fascilla said. "Because they leave their home very quickly and enter the shelter with not very many things. And to know somebody is thinking about them throughout the holidays is a very special thing."
"It reminds us that we as families can come together at the holiday season to grab tags and watch the tree lighting and help other families that might need more than we do," Boise resident Sarah Cortez told KTVB.
Downtown Boise Tree Lighting
This time of year, Women's and Children's Alliance shelter guests lists don't get any shorter.
"The fact that Boise community comes together and makes it so special for them is just a beautiful thing and it really speaks to our community," Fascilla said.
Fascilla says they are grateful to the Downtown Boise Association, Zions Bank and the Gardner Company for sponsoring the event, and helping raise awareness about WCA.
If you don't get your gifts in before Christmas, the organization says you can drop them off at the Women's and Children's Alliance anytime before the new year. The organization also has a running wish list on their website and Facebook year-round.