The Wichitan

Students participate in the Jared Box Project

Kelsey Purcell

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For most, the holidays are a time of joy and celebration. Children run downstairs to find presents under a decorated tree, and a scent of cookies and peppermint in the air. But not all children are so fortunate. For some, the holidays are spent in a hospital bed, eating a meal prepared by the cafeteria.

Cancer.

The word never loses its impact, and its effects can include depriving children of a normal life, even during the holiday season, because cancer waits for nothing. However, there is something to be said about that ever-so-talked-about “magic in the air” around this time of the year. It is because of the goodness and generosity of people that some children will get to experience a more ideal situation this year.

On Nov. 5, students from different organizations including the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Sigma Phi Lambda, University Programming Board, Golden Key, Pre-professional, and Big Brothers Big Sisters came together to make 30 boxes for the Jared Box Project, bringing their total to 110. They filled plastic boxes with toys, crayons, books, notepads, and other things to give to children who are currently being treated for cancer at United Regional Hospital.

No matter how big or small, it’s always so nice when someone thinks of something heartfelt to give to you, and I think this project really got us to do that for these kids,” Georgia DuBose, cell biology junior, said. “The project will hopefully make some kids smile, give them something to look forward to, and let them know there are people wishing them the best.”

Dorcas Matuwana, pre-med junior, led the group in organizing and participating in the Jared Box Project and said she recognizes that the boxes will not cure cancer, but said she believes they can cure the soul.

“The toys won’t help them heal from cancer, but they can put a smile on their faces, and help them believe in the future,” Matuwana said. “I want them to know that no matter what they’re going through, they have to see the brighter side of things, and believe that with God, all things are possible.”

Matuwana said she has a deeper, personal connection to the project.

“The reason why I’m passionate about this is because I am an aspiring doctor,” Matuwana said. “Anything that’s connected to human beings, anything that’s connected with helping somebody else feel better, or helping them see the brighter side of things is something that is close to my heart.”

The volunteers came together to make boxes for children between the ages of four and eight. Matuwana said she chose that particular age range on purpose.

“I chose that age group in particular because they’re too young to be going through what they’re going through. When I was between those ages, I was a happy kid. I was outside playing with my toys, and running around and having fun. They haven’t even been able to experience that; they’re in the hospital, stuck,” Matuwana said. “That’s why we reached out to those kids, so they can get a little feel of how it is to be a normal kid.”

Veronica Balderas, accounting sophomore, agreed that the children’s young age saddens her.

“I hate to see them suffer,” Balderas said. “They’re so young and don’t deserve this suffering, I know this is a hard time for them and especially their families, so if I can be a part of putting a smile on their face for a day, then that’s what I’ll do.”

However, the children will not know who donated the boxes; volunteers will remain anonymous.

“They’ll never meet us. We never got to put our pictures or our names on these boxes, so they’ll never know who we are, but to know there’s somebody else other than the people they’re used to seeing care for them, and want to see them look at the positive side of things will definitely impact them positively by letting them know that they can keep pushing, and they can stay strong, and whatever they’re going through is temporary,” Matuwana said.

For now, the volunteers will only be known through their artwork displayed on the boxes.

“I had one box that I did that was Finding Dory themed, so I drew seaweed, jellyfish, and bubbles all over it,” DuBose said. “I think this project will definitely brighten some kids days.”

Matuwana said she appreciates all of the work everyone put in that made the project a success.

“I really want to thank each person who contributed, each person who gave his or her time to come out and make an impact in the lives of these children,” Matuwana said. “It really showed how MSU students can truly come together, and create a positive impact in the community. It connects with humanity. It connects with what we should do as human beings; helping each other, building each other.”

The Jared Box Project began in 2001 after a little boy named Jared inspired his peers during his battle with cancer. Jared, despite his unfortunate circumstances, always remained positive and had a smile on his face. Jared would play with toys and games to keep his spirits lifted. His great attitude about life is what ultimately caused the Jared Box Project to be created. The people who started the project wanted to give hope to other sick children in hospitals by delivering boxes full of toys and games to them. To date, more than 200,000 boxes have been delivered to ill children nationwide. Jared lost his battle against cancer on November 12, 2000, but his story and his smile live on. 

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The Student News Site of Midwestern State University
Students participate in the Jared Box Project