Jared Box Project services local children’s hospitals

Nicholas Zotos | staff writer. CEL members hosted a Service Sunday in the NiteSpot to help create Jared Boxes filled with toys and games for patients at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Nicholas Zotos | staff writer

Jan. 27, 2022

It is officially a new year on the Bluff and Duquesne students have begun volunteering again on campus. 

This much was evident as students packed into the NiteSpot last Wednesday, Jan. 19, eager to partake in the Consistent Ethic of Life (CEL) group’s sponsored event known as the Jared Box Project.

The official Jared Box website provides a brief history on the project’s beginnings. 

The Jared Box Project started in 2001 with the children of Our Lady of Victory School in State College, Pa. when they set out to honor their young classmate Jared McMullen who died of a brain tumor at just 5 years old. 

McMullen would carry a backpack of toys and games throughout doctors’ appointments. He was known for sharing his toys and inviting others to play games with him, the website said. 

McMullen’s classmates began their initiative for local Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital. Since then, nearly 1 million Jared Boxes have been delivered across the U.S.

According to the official Jared Box website, each box is filled with “small gifts, toys, games, crayons, coloring books and fun activities.”

“These boxes are, in turn, given to children in a hospital to provide a fun diversion,” the website said. 

Josalynn Rightnour, president of CEL, led the project and encouraged others to join.

“This event is consistent with the ethics of our club, which promotes education and advocacy service. We are very excited to partake in this project and help children who are currently in the hospital” Rightnour said.

CEL made 25 boxes which they will distribute to kids in UPMC Mercy Hospital’s emergency room next week.

Each box was equipped with numerous objects including stickers, toys and even a personal note written by the volunteers. 

The intent is that these objects will captivate children while in the hospital. Each toy serves as not only a distraction from boredom, but as comfort for those who may undergo stressful procedures.

The service event had more than 20 volunteers including members from Gamma Epsilon Epsilon, a service sorority on campus.

One of the sororities members, Abby Burke, spoke warmly about the project. 

“This is a great opportunity to help kids, and we are excited to have so many people from our sorority attend,” Burke said. “It truly is so rewarding when you help younger people.”

Many individuals shared Burke’s sentiment as the event attracted students from across the Bluff.

One of CEL’s members, Hannah Valenty, said, “Our club president finds really good opportunities to protect all life, especially for kids. I think this event brightens kids’ days in the darkness of winter.”

The Jared Box Project is one of the many service projects scheduled for this semester. In fact, the NiteSpot hosts a service project almost every Sunday. 

In the past, these events have included making blankets, creating care packages and other initiatives.