Legacy in the News: Nurse launches The Boxes of Love Project to help kids at Randall Children’s Hospital

Gresham Outlook cover story, FOX 12 and KATU

August and September 2014

In June 2012, Lyndsee and Geoffrey Wunn began their journey as foster parents.

Their paperwork was completed on a Thursday. By the following week, the Troutdale couple was asked to take home a medically fragile one-month-old boy. Lyndsee said it was heartbreaking to see Cooper struggle when he had no choice or control over how he started life.

Department of Human Services told the foster parents that Cooper would stay a couple weeks before going to live with an aunt, but life took a different course. Those couple weeks morphed into months and eventually years.

Today Cooper is a smiley, sweet 2-year-old who loves to be silly and snuggle. The Wunns were thrilled to officially adopt him in May, with their biological son Landon, 4, gaining a little brother.

“Every day that went on, we fell more in love,” said Lyndsee, a Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Program nurse with Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel .

“He’s this little piece that completed our family.”

The emotional process of navigating the foster care system inspired Lyndsee to launch The Boxes of Love Project last May.

Many babies come home to a fully stocked nursery and closet full of clothes, blankets and everything they could need.

“Hundreds of babies enter the foster care system each year,” Lyndsee said. “Most of them enter with nothing to call their own. No clothes, blankets, stuffed animals or books. The thought of this breaks my heart.”

Randall Children’s Hospital cares for approximately 500 infants and children a year who are in foster care. Children generally go into foster care when they’ve been abused, mistreated or neglected. They’re often scared, alone and sad, coming in with a family member, social worker or police officer.

Lyndsee’s goal is to ensure every baby entering the foster care system at Randall Children’s Hospital receives a box filled with clothing, a blanket, a stuffed animal and the book “Guess How Much I Love You.”

The boxes also include a note card written by Lyndsee.

“Dear little one,” it reads.

“I know that right now, things may be difficult and somewhat confusing, but it is so important for me to let you know that you are loved. You are amazing. You are brave, courageous and strong. No matter what happens, always know these things in your heart. Always remember that you are special and you are loved.”

Besides collecting items for babies, Lyndsee gathers clothes for toddlers and older children who enter the system, on a case-by-case basis. Most of the box preparation takes place at her home, with donations dropped regularly.

She is collecting new clothing for babies and children up to age 12, shoes, blankets, gift cards to Target, Carter’s and Fred Meyer and cash to buy books, stuffed animals and additional clothing.

Lyndsee is starting with boxes for Randall Children’s Hospital foster children, but her dream is for every foster child in the Portland area to get a box.

"The idea is that I want them to know someone loves them," Lyndsee said. "I may not know them or see them, but it's important to let them know they are loved."

To learn more about the project, visit facebook.com/theboxesofloveproject or email Lyndsee at LWunn@lhs.org.

Donations may be dropped off at:

Main Admitting Desk

Randall Children's Hospital at Legacy Emanuel

2801 N. Gantenbein Avenue

Portland, OR 97227

Read and watch the FOX 12 story and the Everyday Hero story on KATU.