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Seniors treated to holiday harmonies

December 18, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

All year long, those who work at Hagerstown's Department of Juvenile Justice try to help troubled youth straighten out their lives.

But once a year they shift their attention to the older generation by singing Christmas carols to senior citizens.

"It's turned out to be one of the nicest things we do as an office," said probation officer Joan Cave.

On Friday, 11 of the co-workers walked across Public Square from their office to the Alexander House and sang holiday favorites like "Deck the Halls," "Jingle Bells," and "Frosty the Snowman" to about 50 seniors.

They encouraged the seniors to sing along. Most did.

"Louder. We need your help. These elves aren't too good," said Melvin Wigfield, who greeted everyone in a Santa Claus suit.

After 15 minutes of carols, the group sang "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and walked around the room to greet the senior citizens personally.

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"I really enjoy it," said Helen Cornelius, 78. "That's the best way to get in the Christmas spirit."

Cave said the staff came up with the idea of caroling four years ago during a staff meeting.

The first time they sang they were nervous and practiced for 15 minutes.

"Some of us croak and can't hit the right notes, but they just kind of stand to the back. We've not had anyone get up and walk out yet," Cave said.

Wigfield spread his Santa Claus cheer on the way to the Alexander House, making one little girl's face light up.

"That's worth everything," he said.

The caroling group comprised Cave, Wigfield, Margaret Wagner, Maggie Burnett, Wendy Golden, Paul Castle, Tina McCusker, Lisa Harbel, Renee Page, Renita Statler and Jeanne Templon.

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