In 2016, we noticed some children in our church who loved to sing and were the "social butterflies" of the church. Of course, they loved Christmas and always wanted to help decorate the sanctuary, make Christmas crafts and yes, you guessed it, grab the microphone and pretend they are the Christmas soloist in the Sunday morning services!
So, my husband and I got to thinking, "What if we create a little bit of a Christmas choir for children?" Of course, we didn't limit it to just children. We opened it up to entire families in hopes of promoting family time together in the busyness of the world around us these days. Five children and 3 adults began to sing together.
Rehearsals were on Saturday afternoons and lasted about 2 1/2 hours each. This was long, but we didn't care and surely the parents were pleased to get a "nice break" as well. This was our time to teach children how to sing together, take turns singing, watch them grow as a group and at the same time create warm, wholesome and fond memories for them as they sang to people in the community! These were memories that they could keep in their hearts for the rest of their days. And the sound of the group? Not bad for not being joyful beginners without any formal training.
Their first "performance" was right outside the church doors when a car pulled up and the passengers were waiting for their son to come out of the community center to go home with them. So, we encouraged these joyful and shy carolers, "Here's your chance to 'Christmas Carol' someone! Just wave at the people and smile and then start singing!" The people in the car got out and clapped and told the carolers that they could sing for them anytime! What a boost to their confidence and self esteem. The children jumped up and down and said, "They liked us! They really did!" The next words out of their mouths? "Let's do it again!"
The next thing to do was to think of people who would enjoy the caroling and even needed to have someone carol them. So, we started writing out the names of people who had just went through a hard time, lost a family member or who didn't have a lot of family around them. We also began calling places where we could sing - nursing homes, fire stations, other churches etc. That year, we ended up with 20 places to go and sing to.
The following year the size of our choir doubled! We also began making goodie bags, plaques for the VA, firefighters, police and nurses. We also provided some weekly snacks and of course had to buy a few meals on the two big tour dates as we could not expect children to sing without eating. Many of the carolers don't have much to bring with them. Other places kept hearing about us and gave us invitations to carol them as well. Again, the places we origianally caroled the year before invited us back!
The third year, the children kept showing their interest and again we added a few more faces. At the end of the Christmas holiday, I wrote a letter to one of the freshman carolers' school and included a certificate of achievements showing that she had completed 90 hours of community service with us. I also asked the school to grant her the credits in order to satisfy the school requirement so she could graduate high school. I got a call back from the school and was complimented on what we do. The school then asked the name of our organization and if we were a nonprofit. I told the school we were not and then asked why. The lady was gracious and said that they wish they could give the student those hours, but the only way students can earn community service is by volunteering through an actual nonprofit organization recognized by the State of Connecticut. Our hearts sank. We felt like we had failed this delightful high school student and her mother. So, after that Christmas season came to end, and feeling like we had failed this precious student along with the weighty financial costs for the past 3 years, we thought maybe we would take a year off to see if the Lord would give us any other direction.
In late July, early August 2019, some of the children ran into my husband at the local Walmart and greeted him with the question, "Mr. Justin, are we going to do CCMT again this year? We haven't heard from Ms. ToniAnn and we really want to do it again."
That was all we needed to hear. I began my research on how to become a nonprofit so the high school students would have another place to complete their community service hours and we could raise funds to help with the costs.
The children / students really enjoy what they do and they love watching the reactions of the people who hear them sing. How foolish for us to have thought to take a year off? How could we? It is a win-win on every side and we hope you and your students will join us! Visit our Contact Us page or call us at (860) 581 - 3867 and reserve your spot today!
You are Invited!
CCMT President / CEO