You are here

State Honoree

Kaela Larson

Alaska

Kaela Larson, 12, of Willow, Alaska, a seventh-grader at Interior Distance Education of Alaska in Wasilla, created a program called “Trees for Tots” that collects donations of artificial Christmas trees for 24 families who cannot afford a tree on their own. When Kaela saw her mother donate a pre-packaged Christmas dinner for a needy family, “I wondered: if someone couldn’t afford Christmas dinner or presents, could they afford a Christmas tree?” she said. First, Kaela approached local stores for donations of artificial trees, lights, garland and decorations. She placed ads in local newspapers and distributed flyers soliciting both donations and information on families who might need a tree. Kaela and her mother collected donations in a grocery-store parking lot, and then delivered them to needy families. She also distributed trees through the Salvation Army. Since “Trees for Tots” began, Kaela has provided Christmas trees and trimmings to 24 low-income families. “The most memorable part is seeing the joy on the faces of the people who receive the Christmas trees,” said Kaela.