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Small box makes big difference for hospitalized kids

Community-donated toys arrive at Geisinger Wyoming Valley

PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) -- It's hard to imagine a worse place for a child to be than stuck in a hospital. That wasn't such a bad thing for some local kids on Thursday. As Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller explains, their day got brightened in a big way thanks to a relatively small box.

Make way for the box brigade at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center. King's College baseball players like Nick Deno and other volunteers are on a mission in the hospital's pediatric unit. Mr. Deno said, "When we get the chance to be able to give back it's a great feeling." 

What they're giving are more than 2,000 shoebox sized containers filled with happiness for sick and injured kids who've been feeling anything but happy lately. "Coloring books, markers, crayons and you know other little items to help the kids pass time," said Mr. Deno.

The playthings are part of a national non-profit program called The Jared Box Project. King's College head baseball coach and Pocono Mountain School District teacher Jerry Greeley spearheads this annual delivery in northeastern Pennsylvania. It brings a special brand of healing to kids that medicine often can't. Ayreonia Pappas of Wyoming has a son in the hospital who received a Jared Box. "Oh my God. It's so helpful and joyful because he's just so... he loves his ABC's and everything. And everything he got in that box is just everything that reminds him of home." Tiffany Jantzi watched her own son play with his new toys. "I think it's a very good thing. He enjoys it a lot," she said.

Hospitalized kids aren't the only recipients. Children who end up in the emergency department get a Jared Box, too. Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center's Matt Stephenson, RN said, "The emergencies aren't planned so parents come in with their kids. They may not have something to keep them occupied." Geisinger Pediatric Hospitalist Rudy Carbaugh, MD said, "It gives them something to play with and actually do to take their mind off of the things that are happening to them."

The Jared Box Project results in so many toys distributed that there are more than plenty to go around. In fact, Geisinger distributes some of those toys to their other facilities where they care for kids."

A rather small box making a really big difference. "I'm glad they're doing that and I'm glad they're helping people and families, you know, bring reassurance and have them in here to feel comfort," said Ms. Pappas. 

The Jared Box Project started in 2001 in memory of a central Pennsylvania boy who died of cancer. 


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