CUMBERLAND —Veronica Plante, coordinator of Youth Ministry at St. John Vianney Church in Cumberland recently asked some friends from His Providence Church in Swansea, Mass., what their youth pastor was doing during the pandemic to reach the youth of their community. They mentioned that one initiatives was to drive by kids' houses and throw candy and treats at their doors — in “Ding Dong Ditch” fashion.
After being inspired by the nearby parish, the Faith Formation and Youth Ministry teams of St. John Vianney Church expanded on this idea with the help of 35 volunteers to reach around 400 youth in a tangible way.
From May 17 - 24, parishioners personally delivered surprises without jeopardizing the safety protocols in place. The gifts included a note from Father Joe Pescatello, pastor, reminding them that they were being prayed for, a note from Youth Ministry and a fun Ding Dong Ditch graphic.
Parishioners were incredibly grateful for this outreach to their children and teens. Volunteers and their teens had a lot of fun putting together their own personalized gifts which ranged from homemade treats, s'mores kits, packaged Ding Dongs and other fun items.
“We'd ring the door bell and either hide or step back to catch kids reactions which we documented along the way with parent's permission,” said Plante. “Sometimes we'd talk to people for 10-15 minutes on their front lawn. People were genuinely appreciative that they were thought of during this time. It felt like one of the most evangelistic things we've done in ministry. It was one on one ministry and met the spiritual need of being connected to our faith community at this time. It was a heck of a lot of fun too!”