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    Wildcats Spread Holiday Cheer at Mather Pavilion

    Dec. 23, 2013

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    By Jocelyn Serranilla

    EVANSTON, Ill.
    -- Frosty the Snowman Christen Johnson was not, but she sure was a jolly happy soul, belting out Christmas carols for the elderly residents of Mather Pavilion in Evanston on Dec. 17.

    “Sometimes in this kind of environment, some of the people here do not get the chance to interact with young adults,” Johnson, a sophomore forward, said. “I’m glad we could come out here and interact with them, sing to them, and lift their spirits a little bit.

    It was dinnertime at the skilled nursing care residence on Foster Street when Johnson and her teammates arrived to share their time and singing talents to the residents and the nursing staff of Mather.

    “I know we’re brightening up some of these people’s day just to see new faces. It’s great for us also,” sophomore forward Lauren Douglas said.

    Women’s basketball program assistant Tiana Myers distributed stapled three-paged, front-to-back copies of lyrics of the repertoire for the night. The team opened with “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”, followed by “Frosty The Snowman”, then “Winter Wonderland”, and finally, “Jingle Bells.” The Wildcats were flexible and in fact encouraged the residents to sing along and request their favorite songs. “How about ‘Silent Night’?”, came a request from a resident and the team granted the wish immediately.

    A few more requests came in for the team to sing “Away in a Manger” and “Oh, Holy Night.” For almost two hours, the Wildcats entertained the residents with carols, hopping on the elevator after four or five songs and visited with the other elderly on each floor of the facility.

    The teammates sang with gusto, pumping their fists to, “There must have been some magic in that old silk hat they found, for when they placed it on his head, he began to dance around!” They swayed and laughed as they segued to the chorus, “Oh, Frosty, the Snowman, was alive as he could be,” and then thumped their feet to “Thumpety thump, thump, thumpety thump, thump.”

    “I think this is great to give back to the community and spread the Christmas spirit, the holiday spirit. It’s fun for our team to have more opportunities to bond,” said senior captain La’Terria Taylor.

    And fun they had as each one brought their own props for the night. Sophomore forward Devon Brookshire wore a deer antler headband. Sophomore guard Maggie Lyon had a bright red poinsettia bow clipped on her hair. Junior forward Alex Cohen and senior guard Meghan McKeown wore red Santa hats and handed out the women’s basketball team’s holiday greeting cards that say, “Hoping that every moment of your holiday season is decorated with love and happiness.”

    Nof Kedem, a native of Olesh, Israel, wore a purple Santa hat, sang along and enjoyed the spirit her teammates brought to the nursing facility. Kedem, who is Jewish, said, “It’s really fun and I’m learning the songs. It’s a holiday celebration and I’m happy to celebrate with my teammates and the residents. We’re making the people here have a good time with us.”

    The “tall girls” serenading their hosts delighted even the nursing home’s caregivers and nurses. “So this is Northwestern’s basketball team,” and, “No wonder they are really tall!” were some of the comments heard from the staff in the dining hall.

    Junior guard Karly Roser, who hails from Ontario, Canada, went all-out singing carols. “It’s great whenever we can find the time to go out in the community and share the holiday spirit with the rest of the people of Evanston. It’s really fun for us,” she said.

    Soon the basketball team was done singing and visited each floor of the nursing home. On their way out, a nursing home staff member at the front desk asked for a holiday card. “I’ll have to see your game in Evanston,” he said to the team as each Wildcat headed out the door on her way back to nearby Northwestern campus.

    “I’m really glad we were able to come out here. I really enjoyed it,” said Christen Johnson to put the finishing touches on a festive evening of giving back.

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