Project brings 'gifts of play' in hopes of lifting spirits of children in hospital

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A project that can benefit children in the hospital in your community called the Jared Box Project, hopes to lift spirits of children in the hospital, including right here in Myrtle Beach.

If you have a child in the hospital, you know how special a gift is. These boxes are a "gift of play" for children in the hospital that calms anxiety, puts smiles on faces, and makes a child feel special. From boys to girls, infants to teens 18-years old, all can receive these boxes filled with toys, activities, and even a handwritten note for children in the hospital.

This service project was inspired through a 5-year old boy named Jared who battled cancer through faith and a positive attitude. He enjoyed carrying around his backpack full of toys to all his appointments. Now, Jared's inspiration lives on through the kindness of others and a simple box.

Through the kindness of others, these Jared Boxes are now in hospitals across the nation in all 50 states.

"The hospitals were so thrilled with the boxes and said, 'you know although these hospitals have like playrooms or a stack of puzzles kids could play with and so forth… and people donate blankets and different things, but this fun stuff in a box is there's to keep?' They're like this is a really great idea," said Cindy Kolarik, Director of Jared Box Project.

Michele Vining is a Pediatric Nurse at Grand Strand Medical Center and was able to take part of The Jared Box Project in Pennsylvania.

"I have been a nurse for about 26 years and just taking care of kids… it gives them something to distract them and raise their spirits. Cause a lot of kids sometimes that are in the hospital, don't want to be. They're afraid, they're stressed, and it gives them something to play with. Something away from home, their parents… it helps them relieve their child for giving them something to do while they're in the hospital, and it's just something that brings them joy," said Vining.

Vining played a part in bringing this act of kindness project to Myrtle Beach. She said she's enjoyed seeing the joy this project spreads not only to the children, but the community as well.

"Since I moved here, I've been wanting to do something like this for our kids and just trying to get local community involvement, civic projects, people that have service projects that they wanted to do… we're just now getting started, so we're excited to bring it here. The nurses that I've talked to that have handed these out to the kids -- smiling when they're talking about how excited that these kids were when they got this, so just the best thing for them," said Vining.

Volunteers say it can be scary when a child is in the hospital, but they say this is really an uplifting experience. Anyone can get involved, whether you are looking for a summer project to do with your kids, a summer camp activity or even a company activity.

You can make one box or 100. The supplies are readily available from your local stores.

The organization says infants and teenage boxes are ones that always seem to be needed.

"Well I would just love for it to continue to grow to add new hospitals, to new groups get the experience to make boxes, and you know to think about all the kids out there that would enjoy a box to put a smile on their face to let them know that someone's caring about them. It's just such a sweet little act of kindness project -- and to see this wave of kindness continue to grow is truly my dream," said Kolarik.

If you'd like to get involved with Jared Boxes, Grand Strand Medical Center asks you to reach out to them first and can help coordinate all donations from there.

To learn more about the Jared Box Project and more instructions on how to make the boxes, click here.

To contact Michele Vining, click here.

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