The Austin Green Team held its annual tree-lighting and carol singing celebration last Saturday at Washington Boulevard and Laramie Avenue, where the team’s Memorial Garden is located.

The “little sprouts” as they’re called by team members perform for the adults regardless of the weather. LaKesha Kneeland directs the carols while giving individual attention to each youngster. One of the Green Team’s primary objectives is to make a difference in young people’s lives.

After singing various selections of Christmas songs around the tree, the gathering crosses the street to St. Martin’s Church for refreshments and a young people’s program. The program began with Exodus a West Side drum and bugle corps under the leadership of Executive Director Jerome Altman. Altman founded his group almost 11 years ago.

“This is not my first group,” he said. “This group, many of them have been with me for the last five years. We have a lot of girls in the group. However, sometimes it is hard to get transportation to do performances. At first the children were a little afraid when I told them they would also be playing outside, but once they get the beat, you can see they don’t want to stop. We are currently recruiting kids for the winter program. We have some shows coming up, and we have started our younger group. They don’t have to know how to play the drums-we will teach them.”

The young people performed praise-dancing, mimes, and sang and danced with the older adults. Green Team members were involved in serving food and making sure a good time was had by all.

Team President Mary Peery told everyone, “When we first started, we didn’t fill out one table. Now look at all the tables. God is good, and I’m so proud of my children. And the reason I say my children, I think every child here is mine. I am their mother, grandmother, great-grandmother-I have four great-grandchildren myself. I want to thank the Exodus drummers for coming out tonight and performing for us. And I hope they will continue to be with us for our events,” she said.

Anyone who would like to help the Exodus group or donate some type of transportation would be a great help. Exodus is located at 3350 W. Jackson, phone: 773/265-1900, cell: 708/833-9751, fax: 773/265-6082, e-mail:, website: