Talk about proving the naysayer wrong. Before KidsQuest Children's Museum opened in 2005, one foundation turned down a grant request with...

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Talk about proving the naysayer wrong.

Before KidsQuest Children’s Museum opened in 2005, one foundation turned down a grant request with the comment organizers would never attract the projected 60,000 visitors a year.

The hands-on kids place in Bellevue’s Factoria Mall celebrated its first birthday this month. In the museum’s first year, more than 150,000 people have visited. Hands-on activities include a climbing tree, garage, water-play area and toddler section.

How popular is KidsQuest? So popular that visitors sometimes have to come back later because of the crowds.

Santa’s helpers

Santa Claus got help from kind folks in Kirkland.

With less than a week to go before Christmas, Karin Frankenburger and Ron Hutchinson at Kirkland Interfaith Transitions in Housing learned they had a big hole in their adopt-a-family program. A major donor backed out, “un-adopting” 25 needy people.

“We knew that we could cope but it would take some work,” Hutchinson said.

Pastors Mike Anderson and Kathryn Buffum and church administrator Karen Dicken at Holy Spirit Lutheran heard about the crisis and e-mailed the congregation. In less than 24 hours, the wishes were fulfilled.

“All our families, some 200 this season, were cared for,” Hutchinson said.

Light show

The Greenbrier Home Owner’s Association in Redmond holds an annual holiday decorating contest. On judgment day, the association collects food for the food bank.

It was an enthusiastic year, reports resident C.J. Ringler.

“We joked it was the Light Wars because people kept adding more lights to their houses to compete with their neighbors,” she said.

Although the windstorm knocked out power for about 24 hours, the electricity was reconnected in time for the Dec. 17 contest. People were so enthused, the food donations filled the entire back end of a sport utility vehicle — a new record for the neighborhood.

Fishing trip

Betty Peltzer inspired the fifth-graders at Phantom Lake Elementary to walk the distance of Cape Flattery to Bellevue.

The imaginary journey took them through the Strait of Juan de Fuca, south through Puget Sound and into the Ballard Locks, through the Lake Washington Ship Canal and Lake Washington to the Mercer Slough and up Kelsey Creek. Salmon swim the 150-mile route to spawn not far from the Bellevue school.

Students wore pedometers at lunch and recorded their steps around the playground. Each day they tracked their combined mileage on a bulletin-board display.

Peltzer, who organized the PTA-sponsored walk, enjoyed the students’ excitement about the challenge. Her granddaughter, Kayla Green, is one of the fifth-graders.

The windstorm’s interruption left students short about eight miles.

“We plan to make that up when school starts again,” Peltzer said. “The walking-exercise part was so successful, we’re talking about the whole school doing a virtual walk to Disneyland.”