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Special Christmas trees set aglow at Marina Bay to raise funds

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President Halimah Yacob (second from right) being shown the trees on the Marina Bay waterfront. The trees present the stories of 10 individuals or groups who have contributed to various segments of Singapore society.

Singapore

A HOST of Christmas trees on the Marina Bay waterfront promenade were lit up on Friday in a ceremony graced by President Halimah Yacob.

From now till Dec 26, Marina Bay will glow with 200 specially-designed trees - both physical and digital - along the waterfront and four other nearby locations. These are Marina Bay Financial Centre, Marina One, OUE Bayfront and The Fullerton Heritage.

Among those at the opening ceremony were corporate donors and beneficiaries of charitable organisations, including The Business Times Budding Artists Fund (BT BAF), the main beneficiary of ChariTrees.

A total of S$306,000 has been raised to date through this fund-raising initiative, which is into its ninth year this year.

The event has gained greater visibility this year, with extended displays to celebrate the Singapore Bicentennial.

This comes courtesy of ChariTrees' partnership with the Marina Bay Alliance, a grouping of the stakeholders of the Marina Bay pilot Business Improvement District (BID), and the Marina Bay pilot BID manager, Keppel Land.

ChariTrees was launched by Community Chest in 2011; since 2018, it has been organised by The RICE Company Ltd, a not-for-profit arts organisation and charity with IPC status.

Tan Puay Kern, chairman of the ChariTrees 2019 Organising Committee, said: "The partnership between The RICE Company and the Marina Bay Alliance is a major leap for ChariTrees that spurs the giving spirit among our community and to honour the exemplary actions of our community heroes."

The trees present the stories of these community heroes - 10 individuals and groups who have made inspiring contributions to improve various segments of Singapore society: Back2Basics, Daughters Of Tomorrow, Free Food for All, Happy People Helping People, HealthServe, Kenneth and Adeline Thong, Mamre Oaks, Project Dignity Singapore, Tan Yong Soon and Lee Cher Ling, and The Art Faculty.

This year's edition of the event includes luminous trees and augmented reality or AR trees, which provide an immersive visual experience; there are also wishing trees, part of a "Grant-A-Wish" drive inviting the public to fulfil the wishes of 500 beneficiaries from six charities.

Sim Puay Kiak, chairman-designate of the Marina Bay Alliance, said: "By bringing the wishing trees to our properties' doorstep, we make it more convenient for our tenants and the public to get involved in charitable causes."

The opening ceremony also featured performances by the Singapore Police Force Band and beneficiaries of BT BAF. BT BAF reaches out to financially disadvantaged children and youths to nurture their talents in the arts.

Since 2005, more than 18,000 children and youths have benefited from arts programmes supported by BT BAF; these include workshops and structured training in music, dance, theatre and visual arts.