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Youth help to brighten holidays

By Staff
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
The youth of Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church greeted Connie Paul of Hartselle with a holiday surprise recently as they brought a gift of love, caring, song and smiles.
Youth members Becca Williams, Renni Keischhnick, Lauren Grimm, Layne Keischnick, Kristen Grimm, Jake Wayand, Nick Beach and Leslie Williams donned jingling reindeer antlers and made their way up Paul's handicap accessible ramp, built for her by church members when she could no longer easily leave her house.
Once inside, the youth surprised Paul and her daughter, Donna Paul Bessken. Paul was given a pink and white reversible lap robe of chenille made by church member Linda Popdan. She was also given a stocking handmade by church member Kelly Villaneuva filled with treasures, a red velveteen box holding a shiny Christmas ornament, and a box of cookies that Paul immediately shared with her visitors.
As Paul was given her gifts, youth Layne Keischnick watched Paul's reaction and whispered to Bessken, "Isn't she beautiful? She looks like the happiest person in the world."
"Yes, she is," Bussken replied with a hug.
Longtime readers of the Hartselle Enquirer may remember reading Paul's weekly column "Connie's Corner" from many years ago.
"She shared stories of friends, family and special Hartselle happenings," Bessken said. "A retired soldier once told her how much he looked forward to her news from home while he was in Vietnam. He always read 'Connie's Corner.'"
Bessken said her mother was also active in community events and volunteer efforts, like senior citizen dances at Sparkman Civic Center, AARP, the Volunteer Center of Morgan County, The Caring Place, and the Commission on Aging, when she was in better health.
She is also a founding member of Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church.
"She was sure to be found spreading joy and cheer all year round," Bessken recalled.
After the presents were opened and the cookies eaten, the youth and Kids Sing Children's Choir Leader Marilyn Ballentine gave Paul another special holiday treat by singing Christmas carols.
After their visit, the youth received the following thank you note from Paul:
"What a joyful surprise you gave me this morning. I was thinking about how much I would like to hear the children sing and then you came right here to my house and sang! What a gift! Who could ask for anything more? Thank you and may God bless your Christmas, too."
Several more robes have been made and the youth are looking forward to singing and sharing the joy of Christmas with other homebound church members this holiday season.