Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites


Troutdale woman embraces foster children

Nurse launches The Boxes of Love Project to help kids at Randall Children's Hospital


Photo Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: KATI RADZIWON  - Geoffrey, Cooper, 2, Landon, 4, and Lyndsee Wunn celebrated Cooper's adoption in May 2014. He joined the Wunn family in June 2012 as a foster child.

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. The infant was born drug-affected and suffered through withdrawals.

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 nurse with Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel Portland. “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.

Photo Credit: OUTLOOK PHOTO: LISA K. ANDERSON - A pediatric oncology nurse, Lyndsee Wunn has worked at Randall Children's Hospital for 10 years. The Troutdale mother launched The Boxes of Love Project to help foster children who come through the hospital.

Spreading love

Many babies come home to a fully stocked nursery and closet full of clothes, blankets and everything they could need. Lyndsee described the standards for foster children as unacceptably low.

“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 at Legacy Emanuel cares for approximately 500 infants and children a year who are in foster care, said Maegan Vidal, public relations specialist for the hospital.

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.

“I can’t even imagine what that would be like as a child to come into an environment with people you don’t know who are asking questions and running tests to decide your future," Lyndsee said.

Her 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.

Photo Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: KATI RADZIWON  - Lyndsee Wunn said Cooper is a smiley, sweet 2-year-old who completed her family.

A new son and brother

This summer marks Lyndsee’s 10-year anniversary with the hospital. She was hired straight of nursing school at Oregon Health & Science University, finding her niche in pediatric oncology.

Lyndsee met Geoffrey, a Reynolds High School graduate and fellow pediatric nurse, at the hospital. The two have called Troutdale home the past eight years, with their parents and extended relatives in the area.

When the couple struggled to have a second child, they decided to become certified foster parents and open their home to another child.

“I knew I wanted another baby, but I didn’t know how we were going to get him,” Lyndsee said. “After everything we went through and the heartbreak, I can truly see this was a plan for us to have Cooper. He was meant to be ours.

“This process affects so many people — the grandparents falling in love with a grandchild, the aunts and uncles — it affected our whole family. We grew closer and stronger through those times we thought maybe we’d have to say goodbye.”

Lyndsee said Landon understands that his younger brother “grew in another mommy’s tummy, but she was too sick to take care of him.”

At Cooper’s adoption ceremony, Landon celebrated that Cooper got to “stay with his family forever.”

Photo Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Boxes are filled with clothing, shoes, a blanket, a stuffed animal, a book and a note written by Lyndsee Wunn. She hopes to expand the project so that all foster children coming through Randall Children's Hospital get a box.

Donate to the cause

“I would love to be able to take all of the foster children in, but I know I can’t,” Lyndsee said. “It’s too much of an emotional risk. We couldn’t do it but that decision weighs heavy on my heart. I can’t change the system as much as I would love to, but I needed to do something.”

The Boxes of Love Project has grown faster than Lyndsee or Geoffrey anticipated, much to their delight.

Lyndsee joked that her family needs to add another room onto their house or rent a storage unit to accommodate the project.

One little outfit on sale at Target may cost $6, Lyndsee said, but that’s a brand-new outfit for a baby who doesn’t have anything.

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."

The Boxes of Love Project

To learn more about the project, visit facebook.com/theboxesofloveproject or email Lyndsee at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Local Weather

Light Rain

58°F

Gresham

Light Rain

Humidity: 87%

Wind: 0 mph

  • 22 Oct 2014

    Rain 60°F 53°F

  • 23 Oct 2014

    Rain 59°F 50°F