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Ornaments made at Kroc Center to appear at White House

Ella Hummer, 2, with her mother, Jessica, of Coeur d’Alene, punch out snowflake shapes at the Kroc Center in Coeur d’Alene on Wednesday. (Kathy Plonka)
Ella Hummer, 2, with her mother, Jessica, of Coeur d’Alene, punch out snowflake shapes at the Kroc Center in Coeur d’Alene on Wednesday. (Kathy Plonka)

Braydon Rimpau put extra effort into making a Christmas ornament at Coeur d’Alene’s Kroc Center this week. After all, his snowman, with its red felt scarf and black top hat, would be seen by thousands of people.  “When I heard this was going to go to Washington, D.C., and the White House, I couldn’t believe it,” said Braydon, who attends Woodland Middle School in Coeur d’Alene. “It made me really want to do it.”

When the 89th National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony launches a month’s worth of holiday events in Washington, D.C., next month, two dozen ornaments, created by the youth and staff of the Kroc Center, will adorn Idaho’s tree. One of them will be part of the national Christmas tree in the White House Visitor Center.

One organization is selected from each state to fashion the ornaments for that state’s tree and one for the national tree. The Salvation Army Kroc Corps Community Center was selected this year to create the ornaments for Idaho.

The artist, Maj. JoAnn Markham of The Salvation Army, directed groups of children in creating the ornaments that have three different designs: Baby Jesus in the manger, a pine tree superimposed with a reindeer in flight, and a snowman. The student artists made eight of each design, which then were affixed into 5-½-inch-diameter plastic globes.

“Everybody’s looking forward to the broadcast on Dec. 1,” said Markham, who plans to attend in person and take pictures to show to everyone back at the Kroc Center. “At least they know a piece of Idaho is back there that they were involved in.”

In Washington, Seattle Christian School was selected for the honor, said Alanna Sobel, a spokesperson for the National Park Foundation in Washington, D.C.

In Idaho, the Kroc Center was selected for the honor by the state’s Commission on the Arts, which is charged with selecting the organization to represent the state. Executive Director Michael Faison said the commission tries to spread the honor around, geographically. Last year, a south-central Idaho organization was selected.

When seeking an organization in North Idaho, Faison said selecting the Kroc Center was easy after touring the center earlier this year. He said the center’s services are comprehensive and beneficial to the entire community and he was impressed with the wide array of programs offered for youth.

“I’m really amazed a city that size has such a facility,” Faison said. “It’s not just for the city but the whole region. A lot of communities 10 times that size would kill to have such a facility.”

Markham said the materials included clay, ribbons, rhinestones and felt. Dozens of children helped piece together the ornaments and punch out paper snowflakes and stars to decorate them. The children even found twigs outside the Kroc Center that became the arms of the snowmen.

“A little piece of our property is going back to D.C.,” Markham said with a laugh. “Everybody’s really excited that the Kroc Center was chosen and kids here got to be involved.”