EBENSBURG - The eyes of everyone in the room lit up as Santa Claus made his entrance Thursday afternoon at Rebekah Manor Personal Care.
Loaded with various gifts of all sizes, Santa posed for pictures with residents as students from Bishop Carroll Catholic High School helped hand out gifts and sang Christmas carols.
The students have been visiting area nursing homes, including Rebekah Manor, around Christmastime since 2008, Bishop Carroll spokesman Joe Skura said.
Mirror photos by Patrick Waksmunski
Forty-five members of the Bishop Carroll Catholic High School student council visited Rebekah Manor (pictured), Cambria Care Center and the Senior Center in?Ebensburg on Thursday.
Bishop Carroll Catholic senior Devyn Bex, 17, talks with Rebekah Manor Ebensburg resident Dorothy Wilson, 91.
Bishop Carroll Catholic senior Alex Lieb, 17, talks with Rebekah Manor Ebensburg resident Mary Troyan, 105, after presenting her with a gift.
"Bishop Carroll believes in the field trip because it allows the students to learn outside of the classroom and make a difference in the lives of these wise, older individuals," Skura said.
Student Council representatives and other students visited three area nursing homes Thursday. Residents at Cambria Care Center, Ebensburg Senior Center and Rebekah Manor were all treated to the students' handmade cards and gifts, as well as caroling.
"We do sing Christmas carols, but we are not a choir," Skura said. "However, it's the thought of spreading Christmas cheer that counts and matters."
Haley Krug, Student Council vice president, said she has participated in the event since her freshman year at Bishop Carroll.
The seniors and students both enjoy the experience because they get to spend time with seniors whose families cannot always visit over the holidays.
"They seem to really like it," Krug said of the seniors.
Student Council member Dave Marca said spending time with the seniors was a simple way to help brighten their day ahead of Christmas. Many of the seniors were more interested in hearing about the students and their classes, he said.
"When I visited them, they didn't like talking about themselves so much," Marca said.
Rebekah Manor resident Julia Nanna, adorned in a festive Christmas sweater and flanked by Bishop Carroll students, said she had a fantastic time visiting with the students on Thursday.
"I'm enjoying these kids very much," Nanna said.
A longtime Ebensburg resident, Nanna, 93, said the students were incredibly smart and caring, and that future generations would depend on their leadership.
Anne Doyka, activities director at Rebekah Manor, said the seniors always enjoying seeing Santa and having the students spend time at the center.
"They love seeing the children," Doyka said.
The care home staff purchases gifts for the seniors, but Bishop Carroll students also brought small gifts and handmade cards for the residents, she said.
Having the students visit around Christmastime is a yearly tradition the residents always look forward to, Doyka said.
"It was just ... I'm completely in awe," Helen Bowman said.
Bowman's husband, John, a World War II Air Force veteran, lives at the home. Together, the couple watched as a small group of students began singing Christmas carols while others chatted with the seated seniors.
Watching the students sit down and spend time with the seniors was great to see and brought Christmas cheer to many of the residents, Helen Bowman said.
"It was like they were really enjoying themselves," she said. "I am totally in awe."