Holiday Hugs

One at a time, consumers with the Wheeling Area Training Center for the Handicapped stood at the front of a banquet room inside WesBanco Arena on Wednesday and sang a Christmas carol or simply gave thanks for something or someone dear to their heart.

The event part of a holiday tradition sponsored by the Civitan Club of Wheeling during its annual Christmas luncheon. The tradition began decades ago, according to Dick Farley, program chairman for the Civitan Club. He said the club sponsors a number of programs for WATCH throughout the year, and the Christmas luncheon is one of those special events.

“This is an annual Christmas party … ,” said Farley. “They will have dinner, they get a gift and Santa will make a visit. … They sing Christmas carols, and it is a lot of fun.”

Farley said participants have a wonderful time and, for many club members, the annual event feels like the start of the Christmas season.

Club President Frank Carenbauer said the Civitan Club continues to support WATCH financially throughout the year.

“At Christmas time we have all the (WATCH) consumers come as our guests,” said Carenbauer.

He noted the Civitans also will make a monetary donation to the WATCH training center, located at 2600 Main St., Wheeling. He said the club already has donated nearly $3,000 to WATCH this holiday season.

The worldwide mission of Civitan International is to build good citizenship by providing a volunteer organization of clubs dedicated to serving individual and community needs with an emphasis on helping people with developmental disabilities, according to its website. The WATCH mission is to provide meaningful paid employment opportunities to individuals with disabilities.