They brought balloons, signs and smiles. All the makings for a happy homecoming.
"There's the bus!"
Except most of the kids on the white bus pulling into the parking lot at Cedar Crest Bible Fellowship Church in Allentown have never been here before. And they've never met the families waiting to take them home.
"I'm excited, I cannot wait to meet him," smiled Kristen Hoben.
Kristen and her family are hosting a 12-year-old from New York City for the week. He's one of 29 children coming to the Lehigh Valley through the Fresh Air Fund.
"There's so many things we want to do that he would really need to stay here for several weeks," shared Kristen.
Through the program, volunteer host families share their summers with inner city kids. This year 85 boys and girls have made the trek to our area. Brandon Joseph is one of them.
"They just called my name and I got so scared," he explained. "My heart started pumping, pumping and pumping."
Brandon will be staying with Kristen, her husband and their three kids. It's a new experience for them and the boy from Brooklyn. But within a few seconds, the 12-year-old was all smiles. Excited for all the new things in store for him over the next seven days.
"Lots of things, things I've never done before," added Brandon. "Like kayaking, boating and fishing."
A large number of kids in the program return each summer to familiar families. It's something to Hoben's hope happens with Brandon.
"We're hoping that he'll love it, and we'll love it," Kristen said. "Then he'll want to come back and spend even longer with us next time."
This was the last bus to Allentown for the summer, but there are dozens of kids who still need a host family before the end of August. If a bus isn't coming to your area, special arrangements can be made. Click HERE for more information.