Traveling tunes

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Marshall Junior High students, from left, Adriana Chavez, Sierra Lopez, Ashlee Chadbourne, April Muniz and Kourtney Anthony practice Christmas carols and dances as a part of Joni’s Sandia Carolers.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

Amid the Santa hat-clad children blustering through “Jingle Bell Rock” stands Joni Anthony, waving her arms in time with the music.

This is only Joni’s Sandia Carolers eighth practice, and they go on stage tonight.

The carolers are recruited by Anthony’s daughter, Kourtney, at Marshall Junior High.

Their stage is mobile and covered with hay and Christmas decorations. And the carolers will stop and sing for anyone.

“We don’t care if it’s one or 10 people. We’ll stop and sing for you,” Anthony said.

Joni’s Sandia Carolers got their start five years ago. Anthony, who was disabled in a car accident in 1995, wanted to give to the community.

“I can’t give financially. So I give of my soul, of myself,” the group’s creator said.

Anthony said that many people are forgetting what Christmas is about. People still give, she said, but many ask what they are going to receive in return.

“Not one of these kids has asked what they get out of it,” Anthony said.

The Sandia Carolers will trek across Llano Estacado Boulevard on a trailer tonight from 4 to 8 p.m., stopping at various nursing and assisted living homes.

“It warms my heart, the looks on these peoples faces. I’ve seen tears. I‘ve had phone calls, I’ve had people stopping us in the middle of the street and asking why we do this,” said Anthony.

And the answer, she said, is simple.

“Everybody is forgetting the joy (Christmas) is supposed to spread. The joy I can give to these people is our gift, and it’s my reward,” Anthony said.

The Sandia Carolers have been the recipients of good will as well as the bearers. The T-shirts they wear and the trailer and hay they ride on are donated by local businesses.