CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Joni Anthony, right, leads Joni’s Sandia Carolers in practice Tuesday at her home. The group will sing and dance to Christmas carols.
Their shirts say “For the Love” on the back, and that’s why they do what they do.
They are Joni’s Sandia Carolers.
For the 10th year, the group of local youth under the leadership of Clovis resident Joni Anthony will take their Christmas carols to local nursing homes, stores, homes and the streets on their mobile hay-and-Christmas decoration-covered trailer turned stage to spread the Christmas spirit.
The group was created in 2000 when Anthony, who was disabled in a car accident in 1995, wanted to give to the community. She couldn’t give financially while living on disability so she came up with another way to give back.
This year, the group has slimmed down from between 16-20 to 11. They are recruited at school by Anthony’s daughter, Kourtney.
Kourtney Anthony is now a senior, so Anthony said she’s going to have to start recruiting sixth graders next year. Most of the students have been in the group for multiple years.
“We do it for the love and joy of it, not because we’re professionals,” Anthony said.
Kourtney Anthony asked her friend Monica Sanchez to join and she invited Chris Salazar and they joined together.
Both 17-year-olds are involved in choir and thought it a good chance to sing more and for fun.
“I love Christmas carols, so it sounded a lot like fun,” Salazar said.
The group of youth call themselves a family after more than a month of practices together.
Adrianna Chavez, 16, has been in the group since 8th grade.
“I like going to the elderly and singing for them and hanging out with my friends here,” Sanchez said.
Joni’s Sandia Carolers will begin their annual rounds at 3 p.m. Friday. They plan to sing at Retirement Ranch and Assisted Living and then move on to bigger stores, then travel around neighborhoods singing for anyone who asks.
Anthony also said they will sing for people who are homebound.
This year, Anthony underwent surgery over the summer, keeping her in bed for the warm months that were intended for fundraisers like car washes and bake sales.
Anthony said the group lost all of its sponsors and is borrowing everything from a sound system to a trailer and hay. Anthony said she hopes to be able to own everything the group needs some day.
Despite the hard road this year, Anthony said she has no intention of quitting.
“If I quit now, it’s kinda like letting them down,” Anthony said, referring to the people they sing for each year. “They expect us to come. It warms the kids hearts and teaches them the true meaning of Christmas, helping others.”
Joni Anthony at 742-2732