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Love lights the way

by DEVIN WEEKS
Staff Writer | December 3, 2020 1:07 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — Handwritten in pen, with hearts punctuating exclamation marks, the words "We miss you!" share messages of love in honor of beloved pets Bubba and Molly Ray.

Their names are printed on tags decorated with red ribbons and white lights, indicating that even though they've crossed the Rainbow Bridge, their "mom and dad" still think of them and cherish the time they spent together.

This is the Kootenai Humane Society's eighth annual Lights of Love, a holiday event to honor with white lights the memories of pets that are gone and shine red lights to share love for the animals that are still here to brighten our days.

"Over the years, it has grown to be one of our biggest fundraisers for the shelter," Kootenai Humane Society development director Vicky Nelson said Wednesday. "Especially this time of year, it's always been very helpful to have a big fundraiser to come in to get us to Dec. 31."

The faux Christmas tree forest strung with these loving lights is on display in the Silver Lake Mall in front of J.C. Penney. About 2,500 tags have been sold so far this year.

Nelson said the idea for Lights of Love came from a Nevada animal shelter that sold Christmas lights and decorated trees using those donations.

"We took it and said, 'You know, if you're going to buy a light, let's make it to where it's more personal,'" she said. "Every year we see a lot of the same ones come back. And people come and they try to find their tags."

Christi Olson, who recently moved to Rathdrum, happened by the display and purchased a red light for her French bulldog, Chili, and a white one for her Boston terrier, Duke, who died earlier this year.

"I think it's amazing what they do," she said of KHS. "I want to volunteer but I can't because it just kills me, so the people who give their time to the shelter are amazing, amazing people."

KHS volunteer coordinator Kelly Gill has decorated the Lights of Love trees the past five years. She strung lights and flipped the tags to make sure passersby could read the names: Minnie and Mickey Havens, Pumpkin MacNaughton, Takoda Durant, Skittles Hoppe and so many more.

"I love it. I look forward to it every year," Gill said. "I talk to people here, like literally, yesterday, a lady was in tears seeing all the tags, looking for her own tag."

Once the trees are filled, the lights and tags will festoon the white fencing around the display.

Lights of Love will be up through the holiday season. Tags are $10 each and can be purchased online at www.kootenaihumane.org/lights-of-love, at the display in the Silver Lake Mall or in the KHS Thrift Store at 916 N. Third St., Coeur d'Alene.

Proceeds support the nonprofit, no-kill shelter in its mission to provide animals a second chance at happy, safe lives filled with love.

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Devin Weeks/Press File

Molly Ray and Bubba Ray's "mom and dad" wrote loving messages on their white light tags in the Kootenai Humane Society's Lights of Love display in the Silver Lake Mall. The display honors past and present pets and will be up through the holidays.

photo

DEVIN WEEKS/Press

For Jasper, Brownie, Sadie Mae, Coco and all the pets that have crossed the Rainbow Bridge, these white Lights of Love are for you. The Kootenai Humane Society's holiday fundraiser will be on display in the Silver Lake Mall through the holidays.