WILLIAMS, Ariz. — When you have a sick child is there really anything better than seeing that child’s face light up with a smile?
For many families who have children with serious illnesses or conditions, something as simple as receiving an activity book, blanket or toy can help lift the spirits of these children and their families. For the last 17 years the Jared Box Project has distributed boxes filled with small gifts, toys, games and other fun activities to young patients in emergency rooms, patient rooms, surgical centers and clinics as they receive chemotherapy and other medical treatments. Each box contains items selected for a specific age and gender.
Bonnie Dent has collected donations and assembled Jared Boxes for Flagstaff Medical Center (FMC) for the last six years. This year she’s asking for help.
“The (boxes) are given out to children through social workers, usually when it’s a serious diagnosis for the child. The whole family is there — there’s a lot of stress of not knowing what to expect. They say having a box for the kids to play with helps make things more normal,” Dent said.
The boxes are usually taken into waiting rooms with the children for them to play with while they wait for their appointments or are given to children to play with while they are in hospital beds or going through dialysis or treatments.
“They are all clean, approved things that they can have without a problem,” she said.
Boxes are provided to children throughout the year and more than 200,000 Jared Boxes have been delivered across the U.S.
This year Dent is seeking donations to fill boxes and is inviting the public to help assemble the boxes that will be provided to FMC.
“Anyone in town can join us. We take donations from everybody,” she said.
Dent said they are currently looking for small stuffed toys, school supplies and one-square yard pieces of fleece to make blankets for young patients.
“Each box gets crayons and pencils. We need coloring books or activity pages that have been run off on a copy machine and playing cards for the older kids are nice. Solar calculators are great for the older kids,” she said.
Anyone wanting to donate items can contact Dent at (928) 635-2090.
Last year 70 boxes were packaged and this year Dent would like to have 80 boxes to give to FMC.
Those interested in helping assemble boxes can meet at noon, Oct. 14 at the Methodist Church Hall, 127 W. Sherman Avenue. A potluck lunch will be held.
“The Jared Box Project is also important because it gives people of all ages a way to reach out. The Williams community is very generous, and the tax-deductable donations to fill the boxes are used for this heartwarming cause,” Dent said.
More information is available from Dent or at www.jaredboxproject.com.