DEMAREST, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A group of high school singers will carry on an annual tradition the day after Thanksgiving to bring a smile and a song to some senior citizens.
J.O.Y., which stands for Joining Old and Young Through Music, is made up of students at the Academy of the Holy Angels in Demarest.
The high school students spend the day after Thanksgiving and a few other dates during the year performing songs from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s at senior living centers across Bergen County.
“They’re always really excited, they remember us talking to them from our previous performances so they always say ‘you made our day, I’m so glad you’re here.’ And I’m like, ‘that just made my day!'” high school senior Annie Loftus told WCBS 880’s Sean Adams. “Everyone knows the songs so we get a lot of people singing along with us.”
The students say the group brings joy to the guests and the performers.
“A lot of people also end up getting so emotional that we’re there that they start crying and they tell us about stories from when they were in high school, when they were participating in their music groups and it’s just so amazing to feel that we have made such an impact on someone’s life just by singing a song, just by doing what we love to do,” singer Ashlin Twardzik said. “It makes us happy and it gives us a warm feeling in our hearts.”
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The girls stick around after they perform everything from Frank Sinatra to Fiddler on the Roof.
“After we sing, we do a little meet-and-greet so I like speaking with them and hearing their stories and also hearing that we made their day a little better,” Loftus said.
J.O.Y. was started 10 years ago by a student whose grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease. The girl found that when she sang the songs from her grandmother’s childhood, it brought back memories.
“We’re working on spreading it and making it a national club,” Twardzik told Adams.
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