Some local schools are giving back in a way that will help peers they don’t necessarily know, but still hits close to home.
The campaign was started in 2001 by OLV in memory of former student Jared McMullen, who died of cancer on Nov. 12, 2000.
Jared was diagnosed with an incurable brain stem tumor in 1999.
According to the initiative’s website, Jared carried a backpack of toys and games to all appointments, and questioned why other children didn’t bring toys to their exam rooms. Jared shared his toys and invited the other children to join him in a game of Uno, the website said.
Plastic storage boxes are now filled with small gifts like toys or games and distributed to patients during medical treatment as a way to lift the spirits of children in the hospital.
As a community service project, students and staff at Young Scholars are collecting Jared Box supplies through the end of the year.
A release from the school said each box contains items selected for a specific age and gender, and is then delivered to hospitals.
The purpose of the project, teachers said, is to teach students about reaching out and helping others who are going through tough times.
“It is also a way to show them that a small gesture can mean a lot to another person,” spokeswoman Crystal Confer said.
On March 18, faculty, staff, students and families of OLV also assembled Jared Boxes.
After Jared’s passing, Cindy Kolarik was inspired to create the Jared Box Project to honor his memory and help classmates cope with the loss.
The school collected 246 boxes to benefit local children and their families, a release from OLV said.
The boxes from OLV were distributed to children at Janet Weis Children’s Hospital in Danville, where Jared was treated.
“This project is a wonderful way to honor Jared’s memory,” Principal Samantha Weakland said in a statement. “Over the years, we have received many heartfelt notes from families of the recipients. … Our students enjoy this project each and every year. It’s a great opportunity for them to help local children who are struggling and to see the impact they’re making.”