Interfaith Sanctuary hosting first tree-lighting celebration

First tree lighting at Interfaith Sanctuary.

BOISE -- A Boise homeless shelter is starting to feel like home for the holidays.

Interfaith Sanctuary is hosting their first-ever tree lighting on Thursday night, where they'll also be debuting the shelter's choir. Anyone - of any faith or denomination - is invited to celebrate the holidays side-by-side with Interfaith Sanctuary guests.

It is hard for many of us to imagine what it feels like not to be able to carry out the traditions we enjoy this time of year. For those in need living at the homeless shelter, that's their reality. But through this event, staff at Interfaith are giving their homeless guests the opportunity to do so.

"They don't have their own homes so we're celebrating in here," Interfaith Sanctuary Director Dan Ault said.

They will be lighting up a 12-foot donated tree on Thursday, and are asking the community to bring ornaments that symbolize their faith.

"We just really wanted our community to come out and celebrate with us in a very unified way," Interfaith Sanctuary Development Director Jodi Peterson told KTVB. "There could be all kinds of symbols of love, faith and happiness with the ornaments our community shares to send the message to our guests that there's hope and peace and all kinds of unity."

Guests have been decorating their own ornaments this week that they'll hang on the tree. Along with lighting up Interfaith's backyard for all to see, there will be a variety of musical performances.

"... We're going to set up our third- and fourth-graders with Belinda Bowler and her choir from Anser Charter School, and then we have Chad and Vashti Summervill with their youth choir, and then Boise High School is bringing a trio to do some holiday interfaith carols," Peterson explained.

The main act of the night is the Interfaith Sanctuary choir made up of around twelve guests and some community members, headed by Liza Long, who will be directing the group. Shelter directors say the choir has been practicing two nights a week for three weeks.

"The music just kind of changes the whole atmosphere within the shelter. Whether you're participating or not, it just brings joy," Ault added.

By performing together and joining in song, Peterson and Ault say it creates a family at Interfaith Sanctuary.

"It's pretty amazing," Peterson said. "One man, after we finished singing one of our songs which is 'Lean on Me', he came over and gave our director a hug and said, 'Thank you. You grew my heart back.'"

Peterson says this was a great reason to start a choir, and she's planning to keep it going.

Interfaith Sanctuary currently has room on their family side, which they say they're excited about because that means more children are in their own home for the holidays.

Copyright 2016 KTVB


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