Gifting Little Trees of Light to The Community

Alison Hiroko Marshall (left), Allison Ide (right) Photos Courtesy of © Little Trees of Light

By Allie Murray

For Alison Hiroko Marshall and Allison Ide, the holidays are a time for giving back.

During the 2020 holiday season, amid the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, the two best friends began making wooden Christmas trees one of the finishing touch of some holiday lights. They sold the trees locally and made more than $4,000, which they donated back to two charities: The Lighthouse for Grieving Children, and Ian Anderson House, both of which are in their local Oakville neighbourhood.

The idea for the trees and the charitable donations sparked when they began receiving messages from people online who wanted to purchase the trees they had made. They each sought to pick a charity. Alison, who lost her father to cancer, chose Ian Anderson House after her father spent his final days at the local hospice, and Allison chose Lighthouse for Grieving Children because of her passion for kids.

The pair began making the wooden trees in Alison’s garage, using her father’s tools. She shared that it helped her feel close to him and honour his memory with every tree she created.

“Alison chose Ian Anderson House as her Dad spent his final days there,” Ide explained. “The staff made her Dad and her entire family as comfortable as they could be during a very difficult time. For her, it was the best possible care they could have asked for and she is passionate about Ian Anderson House and their important role in our community.”

After seeing so much success in their first year, the duo decided to do it again, striving to make more trees and donate even more back to their community. By mid-November, they had sold close to 900 trees and raised $20,000, with the proceeds going towards those same two charities that hold a close place in their hearts.

© Little Trees of Light

“For me, I chose Lighthouse for Grieving Children as I have been dedicated and committed to working with children for the better part of the last 20 years,” Ide said. “When a child loses a parent—no matter what stage they are along their path—they are returned to a state of being a child and feel that same loss and burden as deeply. I am empathetic and grateful for the work these members working at Lighthouse do for our young hearts, and support them in their journey of grief and loss.”

This year, they offered new tree designs, including a kids tree with colourful lights, a snowy set, and their classic smokey grey set with warm fairy lights. The best friends had goals of quadrupling their charitable efforts this year and even hosted a Christmas pop-up market with other local vendors in their backyard. The market was dubbed “Handmade with Love” and brought hundreds of patrons to their local market.

Reflecting on the impact they’ve made, which all started with a “crafternoon” session during the pandemic, the two are thinking towards the future, aiming to continue making a large impact, year after year.

“Alison and I can say—in near synergistic terms—that this small seed planted one year ago has rooted us in so many ways,” Ide said. “We are friends, neighbours, collaborators, and true partners in every sense of the word and emotion. Throughout this process, we have had deep belly-laughs from our core, and cried in grief together. We are exhausted, elated, excited, and aligned in our venture together and it has meant so much more personally, for our families and within our community than we could have ever imagined.”

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