A Visit From Mrs. Christie

November 11, 2011
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NJ First Lady Mary Pat Christie accepts the 2011 New Jersey Christmas ornament created by families participating in 180 Turning Lives Around's Amanda's Easel program. Looking on are Amanda's Easel Coordinator Cynthia Westendorf (l) and Anna-Diaz White, exeutive director of 180 Turning Lives Around.

New Jersey’s First Lady Mary Pat Christie paid a visit to the area on Wednesday to accept the 2011 New Jersey Christmas Ornaments created by children participating in 180 Turning Lives Around’s Amanda’s Easel program.

The nonprofit organization was selected to create ornaments that will be displayed on the 2011 New Jersey Christmas tree in Washington, D.C. One of the ornaments will decorate the White House Visitor Center Christmas tree, which showcases one ornament from all 56 states, territories and the District of Columbia.

“It is an honor to be selected because the families of Amanda’s Easel are such special people. They are survivors of domestic violence and this project provided a wonderful opportunity to use art therapy to help the families express their feelings,” said Anna Diaz White, executive director, 180 Turning Lives Around. “We are excited to be a part of the National Christmas Tree display because the ornaments the children have created represent both our pride in our state as well as our mission of providing every child a safe home.”

One of America’s oldest holiday traditions, the National Christmas Tree Lighting began on Christmas Eve in 1923, when President Calvin Coolidge lit a Christmas tree in front of 3,000 spectators on the Ellipse in President’s Park. Each succeeding president has carried on the tradition of what now has become a month-long event presented by the National Park Foundation and the National Park Service.

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Amanda’s Easel Coordinator Cynthia Westendorf was thrilled to invite the children and families to participate in this special project, which used painted birdhouses and symbols of our state’s resources.

“We designed ornaments that make a statement for each child about what they feel makes their home peaceful and safe at the holidays.

“The Governor and I are so proud to have Amanda’s Easel create this year’s official State Ornament for the National Christmas Tree in Washington in Washington, D.C., said New Jersey First Lady Mary Pat Christie. “The holidays are a time of giving peace and goodwill. . Through the fine work of Amanda’s Easel, children and their families are rebuilding their lives and healing from the effects of domestic violence, a true inspiration for the holiday season and every day.

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