Honking horns and cheerful cries were heard all around the city as St. James Catholic School staff members, students and parents lined their cars for a parade Thursday to deliver care packages of goodies and letters to a handful of the community’s essential workers.

The caravan’s tour spanned three locations, the Guadalupe Regional Medical Center, Hacienda Oaks Nursing and Rehab and Seguin Fire Department’s Station 3.

“It’s great to do something proactive, and something to thank the community, especially the essential workers,” St. James Catholic School Principal Johanna Lopez said.

A school bus carrying St. James Catholic School staff members spearheaded the caravan as the parade consisting of about 10 members made its rounds.

Staff members donning personal protective equipment masks, waving pom-poms and posters hastily unloaded the bus at each location to hand-deliver the packages and thank the essential workers while parents and kiddos cheered from their cars.

“The notes that we are delivering today handmade by the children say ‘thank you to our essential workers,’” Lopez said. “Some of the letters were specific, they wrote to the fire department, they wrote to nursing home and hospital workers and the staff made five baskets filled with goodies like chocolates, candies and things like that.”

The students and teachers of St. James Catholic School reached a soft spot in the hearts of GRMC employees with their delivery, Guadalupe Regional Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Robert Haynes said.

“It lifts our spirits to know that people care because the people that are working here are doing what they do to make a difference,” Haynes said. “When, especially kids, and an organization like St. James does what they did, we feel appreciated. There’s a sense of pride in doing what you do as a healthcare worker, and when it’s recognized by the public in some form, it lifts your spirits. So we circulated those cards throughout the facility and distributed the gifts, and it just inspires us to keep doing what we do.”

Hacienda Oaks Nursing and Rehab Activities Director Star Sutton said although she knew of the school’s plans, the parade was a welcomed head turner.

“They called me and said ‘Star we’re going to come by,’ but I did not expect this big old shabam,” she said. “It was this big, welcoming saying that we’re heroes, but actually they’re the heroes too for doing things like that. It was just amazing, and I was just in awe.”

Seguin Fire Department Capt. Amy Flynn said she was shocked when she saw the caravan turning the corner onto the station’s drive way.

“We didn’t know they were coming. It was a surprise for a whole lot of people, and it was really great,” Flynn said. “We appreciate it greatly. It’s very, very heartening to have everyone come out and give us a little cheer after we’ve been out there with everybody.”

Preparation for the parade began in April when Lopez coordinated with St. James Catholic School teacher Dana Hermes to distract staff members and students from the stressors of distance learning brought on by the new coronavirus.

“It’s a struggle. They miss their friends, and I thought, ‘what we can do to build some team and create some enthusiasm,’” Lopez said. “Teachers loved the idea and shared it with the kids and gave it as an assignment. They said, ‘no homework on Friday, it’s a family fun day so you can work on your gratitude projects witch are the homemade cards.”

The parade was a great distraction for Hacienda Oaks Nursing and Rehab residents after more than two months on lockdown, Sutton said.

“They (residents) can’t even see their families,” she said. “I have some visiting through the windows, or I use my phone to FaceTime with them so they can see their family members almost every day just to make them happy. We’re just so thankful that we still have good people. You hear about the bad things all the time, but this is something that just needs to go everywhere.”

Joe Martin is a staff writer for the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail him at joe.martin@seguingazette.com .

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