A Canyon County Sheriff’s Crime Lab trailer slowly backed up to the Valley Women & Children’s Center in Nampa on Friday. An officer unlocked the back of the vehicle, revealing a several-feet tall shrink-wrapped Christmas tree — and plenty of holiday spirit.
Sheriff Kieran Donahue and another officer pulled on an orange string, dragging the tree out of the trailer by the tree stand. Another officer pushed the tree, originally from the Canyon County Festival of Trees, from behind.
“Watch the top,” someone said.
The tree bypassed the metal detector as it entered the shelter.
D&B Supply President Mark Schmitt, in cowboy boots, jeans and a black shirt, joined in with others to help carry the Christmas tree inside the shelter. Schmitt helped reach out to Donahue to figure out where to donate the tree.
The multi-colored ornaments jingled as the tree squeezed through the door into a small cafeteria down the center’s hallway.
“Quite a project,” Boise Rescue Mission Ministries President & CEO Bill Roscoe said, laughing. The center is a Boise Rescue Mission facility and offers 66 beds for homeless women and children.
Finally, the group set the faux-conifer down in front of a quilt hanging from the wall. Donahue and Schmitt, along with others, began tearing the shrink wrap off, revealing ornaments like snowflakes and spools of thread. At the top, staring up at the fluorescent lighting, was a Santa head, glasses perched above rosy cheeks. The room got dark, and circles of light on the tree faded from light to rainbow and back again.
“Thing of beauty,” said Roscoe, who had not yet seen the tree. “I think it’s fantastic. That’s beautiful...There’s more decorations on that tree then they have at Walmart.”
The center has other Christmas traditions. There will be a big meal on Dec. 25 and Santa and Mrs. Claus will stop by. Staff members already have presents for all the people in the shelter and additional gifts for anyone who may show up before then, Roscoe said.
Between 30-40 women and children are at the shelter every night, he said.
The goal of the tree is to bring a sense of a normal holiday, Roscoe said. Donahue echoed that sentiment.
“For people who aren’t going to have the routine Christmas that we have...let’s get it over to the women and children’s center so they can enjoy this very, very beautiful tree,” Donahue said, standing in a room in front of human-sized red and white candy cane decorations. “This is just one more thing we can do for somebody else.”
Carolyn Komatsoulis covers Meridian and Ada County. Contact her at 208-465-8107 and follow her on Twitter @CKomatsoulis.
Carolyn Komatsoulis covers Boise, Meridian and Ada County for the Idaho Press. She previously worked at a newspaper in rural Nebraska. She's from the D.C. area and went to school in Boston, where she graduated with a degree in journalism. In her free time, she loves watching football, spending time with Kyoko and Pickles, exploring and going on road trips with her best friends. She welcomes news tips in English or Spanish.