STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WTAJ) — When children are sent to the hospital, it can be a very experience for them and their family.
Back in 2001, a little boy named Jared from State College was getting treatment for his battle with cancer. Jared was known for bringing smiles to other kids in the hospital. “He’s known for inviting kids for a game of Uno with him or old maid or share his Legos um just that looking out for others um at that young age – so he was an amazing little guy!”
But, unfortunately Jared lost his battle with cancer. “We like to say that we picked up where Jared left off um so after he passed away, I was just so inspired by his story.”
That’s when the Jared Box Project got started, 20 years ago, all to honor a special little boy. “Our mission is to lift the spirits of children in the hospital,” says executive director, Cindy Kolarick, “a Jared Box is just a plastic shoe box filled with games and toys and goofy things that kids would love and would really just make them laugh and smile.”
Since then, groups from around the country have been creating these Jared Boxes and sending them to local hospitals for kids going through tough times. “Just to watch it grow and spread really through the kindness of others we’ve taken this sweet little idea um and it’s become a nationally recognized non-profit it’s amazing it’s really a tribute to the kindness of others – you know when we started this project I thought about all of the kids we could help and all the boxes and the smiles of kids in the hospital but the thing that has surprised me is how much I’ve enjoyed getting out and working with people,” said Kolarick.
What started in Happy Valley, has inspired people all over the country, and now they’re close to creating over one million boxes. “I always tell people I invite you to turn off the TV, put down your phone like if you actually get out and work with your neighbors they’re just so caring and so anxious to uh be involved in helping their neighbors and I see that all the time – so that’s a gift to me to have the vantage point to be able to see that,” said Kolarick.
And the response they receive from creating the project is Cindy’s favorite part. “Just the thank you notes we get just how they you know like put smiles on faces you know try the teary eyed just laughter and just fun so there’s are so heartwarming,” said Kolarick.
For details on how you can create your own Jared Box, visit thejaredbox.com.