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Burgettstown residents share Christmas spirit

December 22, 2012
From staff reports , Weirton Daily Times

CORAOPOLIS, Pa. - Three Burgettstown-area girls shared the holiday spirit Dec. 8 with the residents of Coraopolis Towers, an assisted-living facility which primarily houses elderly residents.

"The residents thoroughly enjoyed it," said Becky Sutherland, event coordinator. "They had a very good time."

Emma Gragan, a local vocalist, hosted a "Christmas Social at Coraopolis Towers," last year, and she invited friends Brooke Vebelun and Katie Richter to assist her this year.

Article Photos

Burgettstown resident Emma Gragan, center, along with friends, Katie Richter, left, and Brooke Vebelun, left, hosted a Christmas social at Coraopolis Towers recently. -- Contributed

"I know many of the residents were looking forward to it this year, after last year's performance," said Paige Gragan, Emma's mother. "This is Emma's second year doing this. This year, she asked her friends to do it with her. The girls had a lot of fun."

Sutherland noted the program was a special treat for the residents.

"Her (Emma's) grandfather lives here," she said. "It's something special he and all the residents look forward to."

Katie said she assisted in the set-up of the sound equipment and also made several cards, which the girls distributed to the residents attending the social.

"It was fun," she said. "We played games (with the residents). I made cards for them, whenever I had the time between school assignments. They seemed to really like it, they really looked happy, smiling and clapping."

Brooke said she had a long-standing friendship with Emma and was happy to assist when asked. She added that she enjoyed singing and had participated in several musicals.

"We rang the bells and sang a couple songs with her," she said. "I think they had a lot of fun. I think they liked Emma's singing; it was beautiful. The people there were really nice. I think it was really nice to be able to do something for these people and help them have a good time. I'm happy to have helped do something nice for them. It was a lot of fun."

Emma said she first thought of the social as something special and fun for her grandfather and all the residents. She added that the girls made somewhere between 30 and 40 homemade Christmas cards for the residents.

"I thought it would be a good idea to help them," she said. "It's really fun for me. It's just a really fun time and I hope to do it again next year."

Emma began singing when she was 4 years old, when vocal lessons were offered at her dance school. She frequently sings at area fairs and festivals.

"It's something I hope to keep doing, and I'd like to do it as a career, but if I can't, I'll keep it as a hobby," she said. "I just really love to sing."

During the event, Emma performed several classic and traditional Christmas Carols, including "Wexford Carol," "Ave Maria," "Coventry Carol" and "Silent Night." During "Silver Bells," Katie and Brooke and volunteers from those attending rang bells along with the music. "Holiday Helpers" Katie and Brooke served refreshments, including cake and coffee, and distributed Christmas-themed door prizes by pulling names from a Santa hat. To close the program, the three girls led the residents in a carol sing-along, ending by Brooke, Emma and Katie singing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" to the residents.

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