Courtesy Photo Beth and Alex Ferrell, members of the youth group at St. Joseph Parish in Martinsburg, display signs of hope and encouragement to their fellow parishioners at the assisted living facility Harmony at Martinsburg.

MARTINSBURG—Elderly and homebound members of St. Joseph Parish in Martinsburg recently were treated to a parade of love.
On April 26, members of the Martinsburg church’s youth group visited parishioners outside at their homes; at Clary Grove, a skilled nursing center; and Harmony at Martinsburg, an assisted-living facility. Due to social-distancing regulations in place to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the 16 teens and their families could not go inside the sites, so they shared messages of love through signs they decorated. To add to the festive feel, they were transported in vehicles bedecked with balloons and one topped with a large, inflated duck.
Youth group leader Linda Abrahamian was inspired to host the event by a friend who was planning a celebration of her grandmother’s birthday that featured a parade of family and friends traveling in front of her house in decorated cars.
The teens communicate with the homebound throughout the year by writing cards to let them know they are not forgotten, are loved and that prayers are being said for them. In the fall, the group made small crafts that could be hung in the rooms of those who no longer can attend Mass or parish events. Father Thomas Gallagher, pastor of St. Joseph’s, went along for the ride, praying for the young people, and speaking to and blessing those they visited.
The youths made colorful signs that could be carried past windows and held outside their cars as they drove by homes. Among the inspiring messages they shared were, “Keep your head up: God gives His hardest battles to His strongest soldiers”; “Donut give up”; and “This will not last forever.”
The kids sang a song outside of Harmony; waved and spoke through closed windows at Clary Grove; and honked and shouted greetings as they drove by the homes of parishioners living in the city.
The young people were delighted to see smiles on the faces of those they visited, knowing they brought a bit of sunshine to them on a dreary day.