Friday, April 21, 2017 6:21 PM

Gift boxes of distraction and comfort

In one small plastic box are all the elements to take away tears, distract from fears and make a hospitalized child smile. In April, the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (LDS) Redbank Ward Relief Society delivered 90 toy-filled boxes to Community Regional Medical Center’s pediatric intensive care unit (PICU).

 

Child Life Specialist Hannah Knott thanks Tamera Perkins, member of the Latter Day Saints Redbank Ward Relief Society in Clovis, for 90 boxes of toys the church’s women’s group put together for patients at Community Regional Medical Center’s pediatric intensive care unit.
A Pennsylvania organization that started the idea and named them “Jared Boxes” to honor a 6-year-old boy who brought toys to share with others in the hospital while he was receiving cancer treatments. The boxes are designed to help children get through the sometimes painful and scary medical care. Hannah Knott, a child life specialist in Community Regional’s PICU, said the 90 toy packages will be a welcome relief. 
 
“We have a lot of kids who end up being alone for a significant portion of their hospital stay – either because they were in an accident with their parents and the parents are hospitalized too in another part of the hospital, or they’re being raised by a single mom who has to work and take care of other children,” said Knott. “Often we have patients where there is CPS (Child Protective Services) involvement and those patients are going to be alone for the entirety of their hospitalization until they are placed in foster care.”
 
Knott said she’ll be rationing out the boxes to the most needy children to make the supply last as long as possible. The boxes will go home with each recipient, so the toys aren’t passed around and won’t need to be sterilized.
 
“We love the purpose of Jared Boxes. We’re trying to keep kids comforted and entertained so they heal better,” Knott said.
 
“Jared Boxes” contain toys geared toward different age groups that are appropriate for the hospital setting and can be taken home by the child patient.
Tamera Perkins, who spearheaded the effort for the LDS group in Clovis, said 60 church women were involved in gathering the toys and assembling the boxes geared to specific genders and age ranges. She said a presentation on Community’s child life program from Knott showed the women who they would be helping. “It really was such an easy project,” Perkins said. “It was a treat for our members to go out and buy 20 dolls or 40 boxes of Playdough.”
 
But Perkins said the poem emailed to those involved in the church’s compassionate service projects, really brought home how these “boxes of distraction” make a difference:
 
Today I replaced fear with a smile.
I made those IV pokes hurt a little less.
Today I was a blessing during a parent's time of stress.
Today I told fear to go away, because it's time to play.
Today I made a difference in a child's life.
Today I made a Jared Box.

 
You too can replace fear with smiles for our hospitalized children. Make a gift by calling 559.724.4343 or donate to Women’s & Children’s Services here.

Erin Kennedy
Senior Communications Specialist 
Corporate Communications