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Basketball girls spread holiday cheer for Stonewall Haven residents in Martinsburg

December 20, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - For the North Middle School Blue Devils, it was time to put down the basketball and spread some holiday cheer.

Officials with the Martinsburg North Middle School girls basketball team said they wanted to show players that there is more to life than basketball.

So they talked to the students about making holiday gift bags and giving them to residents at the Stonewall Haven residential facility on Silver Lane off Raleigh Street.

"We just threw the idea up to them and they said, 'Let's do it,'" said Mike Secrist, one of the team's coaches.

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The girls put together gift bags containing items like cheese crackers, fruit, jelly, note pads, tissues and pudding. All the girls also signed individual greeting cards that were tucked into the bags, Secrist said.

The basketball players delivered the gifts Wednesday night and sang Christmas carols to Stonewall Haven residents.

The girls and the residents then had snacks and punch.

"I think it's wonderful. I love to hear the kids sing and all. I knew they can play basketball," said Stonewall Haven resident Cornelia Gentry.

Stonewall Haven is a City of Martinsburg facility that consists of 105 apartments. Residents who live there pay a fee based on their income, officials said.

Youth groups associated with 4-H and church groups have visited Stonewall Haven residents in past years at Christmas time, Gentry said.

"I think it's beautiful," Stonewall Haven resident Lucy Huff said.

"Kids are wonderful," added Jay Sykes.

About 19 girls basketball players from North Middle School showed up at Stonewall Haven and players like Aaliyah Marshman and Ashauna Calder said they enjoyed being there.

"We just didn't know we were going to sing Christmas carols until we got here," Marshman said.

The holiday bags were paid for through fundraising efforts by the players, Secrist said.

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