Denise and Darryl Benfield didn’t intend to start a countywide movement when they ordered a yard sign congratulating their son Hunter.
The Benfields felt sorry for Hunter, who will graduate from Exeter High School this year. Their son was forced to miss much of the pomp and circumstances of senior year when events were canceled or postponed due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
The Exeter Township couple just wanted to brighten Hunter's spirits and make him feel special.
So Denise enlisted the help of friend and fellow parent Carrie McCarty, owner of Roo Hoo’s Boutique.
McCarty designed a sign and connected the Benfields with a supplier. When the printer required a minimum order of 20 signs, Denise offered the extras to parents in the Facebook group Proud Parents of 2020 Seniors Berks.
The signs read “Class of 2020 Our hearts are with you” and “#allinthistogether.”
For the next two weeks, the two mothers were overwhelmed, fielding requests and taking orders from parents of high school and college seniors all over the county.
“It went viral through Berks County, that’s for sure,” McCarty said.
They sell the signs at cost and distribute them, COVID-19 compliant, outside the Benfields’ business Wyndham Advisors, 5 Hearthstone Court, Exeter Township.
“Last Friday was a scene,” McCarty said. “It was just car after car pulling up.”
About 250 parents showed up Wednesday for the second pickup, and the pair plan to continue accepting orders and scheduling pickups over the next few weeks.
They also have mailed signs to parents in New York, New Jersey, Delaware and other states.
“We are working on our fourth order,” Denise Benfield said. “It’s just been incredible. We already distributed more than 500 signs and ordered more than 800.”
The pair also is accepting orders for what they call “community support signs” for friends and neighbors to place in their yards to show their support of graduating seniors.
The signs can be ordered in the colors of all county school districts and private school and most colleges and universities.
“We are not making money on this,” Benfield said, “but it has become a full-time job. My phone never stops ringing. I work on this project from 9:30 in the morning until 11 at night.”
But the smiles and thanks she receives make the effort worthwhile.
“If you could see these kids’ faces,” she said.
Signs can be ordered on the Proud Parents Facebook page. Payment can be made through PayPal or Venmo.