Bonnie Dillard displays two examples of ornaments designed by local children in the class she taught. )Kayla Desroches/KMXT)

Every year, a different state decorates the Capitol Christmas tree in Washington, D.C. This time, it’s Alaska’s turn, and 10 Alaskan artists are designing the ornaments.

Bonnie Dillard, a retired teacher in Kodiak and one of those actively involved, explained the project was meant to be a community effort.

“Each artist created a lesson plan, so that teachers around the state or community members, whoever wanted to lead a workshop to create these ornaments could do so, and they’d have the lesson plans and examples in front of them,” Dillard said.

Dillard said choosing her medium wasn’t difficult: marine debris has been a concern of hers for many years. She said she recently led her first class with children at a local summer program.

“I created a plan for a marine debris animal,” Dillard said. “A fish, since we’re a fishing community, and basically you cut up the debris and you wire it together into shapes and patterns, and they end up being very sturdy. You have to make an ornament that can hold up in the weather, because it will be outside.”

Dillard said the ornaments must be colorful enough to stand out against the green of the tree, which will come from the Chugach National Forest.

The project’s official website says the Capitol Christmas tree will be adorned with about 2,000 ornaments made by children and community groups throughout Alaska.

Dillard said her goal was to raise awareness about the marine debris washing up on the coast.

“It’s important that kids realize that this is a problem,” Dillard said. “And as they grow up, I’m hoping that they will become passionate about taking care of the place where they live, instead of blindly buying things and not thinking about what happens to their garbage.”

Dillard urged kids and adults in Kodiak to get together to make the ornaments and submit them for consideration to hang on the Capitol tree.

Visit the project’s website for information.

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