December 5, 2016
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Holiday Kids' Tree lighting brings joy to Olympia and $22,000 to needy families

Santa and Gov. Jay Inslee welcomed families to the state Capitol Friday evening for the lighting of the 28th annual Holiday Kids' Tree in Olympia.

AWB again helped organize the tree-lighting ceremony in support of the Department of Enterprise Services, which put the 30-foot tree in place last week after it was harvested and donated from Weyerhaeuser's Vail-area tree farm. TVW has video of the full tree-lighting ceremony, and will be broadcasting it on its television channel throughout the holiday and Christmas season, including this week on Tuesday at 6 p.m., Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. and 6 p.m., and this Saturday at 10:30 p.m.

Chief Maungwai Soe, the command drug and alcohol program advisor at Naval Base Kitsap, lit the tree with his wife and their two young children. Soe is the commanding officer's advisor on all matters relating to alcohol or other drugs and is also responsible for the successful completion of Funeral Honors Services in support of active, retired, and honorably separated service members.

This tree lighting is part of the 28th annual AWB Holiday Kids' Tree Project, which raises funds to help provide gifts for families in need. A special part of the event is the presentation of toys and cash gifts for rural fire districts to give out to needy families across the state.

Since 1989, the AWB Holiday Kids' Tree Project has raised and given away more than $393,000. Firefighters have mentioned that these donations are often the only funds they receive to help needy families during the holiday season.

The theme for this year's tree decorations was "Under the Sea," and again featured oversized stuffed characters from popular kids’ movies and television programs as tree ornaments. As always, when the tree comes down, those stuffed animals along with a book are given to children receiving care at a Puget Sound-area children’s hospital.

For a 94-second view of a full day's worth of tree setup (including the raising of the tree), watch this video on AWB's Facebook page.

And how exactly do you set up a nearly 35-foot tree indoors? The Washington State Department of Agriculture listed 10 "easy" steps in a fun blog post.

The Washington Policy Center, inspired by the tree, offered 60 policy presents for lawmakers to open (some adult assembly required).

The Spokesman-Review, The Olympian, The Chronicle, The Nisqually Valley News, Thurston Talk and the Secretary of State's office covered the tree-raising.

To donate to this project, contact AWB's Bonnie Millikan.

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