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Leah Frederick (left) and Jamie Murphy organize Jared boxes to distribute to children at UPMC Altoona during the holiday season. The effort began in 2001 at Our Lady of Victory Catholic School at State College to honor their classmate and friend, Jared, who battled cancer. Since then, nearly 1 million boxes have been delivered to more than 400 hospitals in the United States. Courtesy picture

Some children hospitalized during the Christmas season will receive boxes full of gifts to help make their stay a little brighter.

Students at Cambria Heights High School collected items to fill shoebox-sized containers called Jared Boxes.

According to the Jared Box Project website, the effort began in 2001 by children from Our Lady of Victory Catholic School at State College to honor their classmate and friend Jared, who battled cancer.

Since then, more than 999,000 Jared boxes have been delivered to over 400 hospitals across the United States.

In Cambria Heights, teacher Michele Schift said 450 students assembled 124 boxes.

Jennifer Terza (left) and Gracie Bradley organize Jared boxes to send to children in the ER or intensive care unit at UPMC Altoona. The boxes contain items such as coloring books, stuffed animals and games to help them pass the time and distract them from being in the hospital. Courtesy picture

“There was a challenge among all the starters to see which one could fill in more boxes,” she says.

These Jared Boxes were delivered to UPMC Altoona.

“They are given to children who are in (emergency) or in (intensive care units). This is to help keep their spirits up from being in the hospital,” Schiff said.

Alyssa Miller, a ninth grader, said she loves giving presents to children in the hospital.

“They don’t have to think about things that might be bad or uncomfortable for them when they receive the gifts,” she says.

Inside the boxes, children will receive items to help them pass the time, such as stuffed animals, coloring books, crayons, craft supplies, toys, games and anything else fun.

McKenzie Henry said her senior class tried to bring lots of items and nice things so the kids in the hospital could have more.

“I liked the idea of ​​the kids having things to do, especially while they might be in the hospital over Christmas,” she says.

This is the school’s second year participating in the project, Sshift said.

“These kids have done an incredible job this year, and I also wanted to thank all the staff for their participation,” she says.

Mirror Staff Writer Cati Keith can be reached at 814-946-7535.

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