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Sandy retirement community accepts 'Boxes of Love' donations to help foster children

POST PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN  - Susan Leininger at Avamere in Sandy spearheaded the retirement commmunity's involvement in the 'Boxes of Love' program. In the hectic society we live in, those who need care the most are often neglected.

At Avamere at Sandy Assisted Living Care, the staff's mission is to be an advocate and resource for those people, including not just the elderly they care for, but those in the larger community.

In the spirit of that effort, staff members have found yet another way to give back by providing the newest dropoff location for "Boxes of Love."

The program, an effort to support foster children, specifically babies, was started four years ago by pediatric nurse and adoptive/foster mother Lyndsee Wunn, who works at Randall Children's House in Portland. The boxes are filled with about $500 worth of donated baby clothes, blankets and other items, supplied largely by local residents, providing "local children being placed into foster care with ... new clothing and other comfort items to call their own," according to the program's website. It is the mission of The Boxes of Love Project to let these amazing babies and children know that they are special, that they are valued, that they matter, and most importantly, that they are loved. The boxes help to provide the children with a small sense of comfort, control, security and happiness during an incredibly scary and tumultuous time in their lives."

POST PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - 'Boxes of Love' contain baby clothes, blankets and other supplies that are donated at dropoff sites like Avamere and then packaged to be gifted to foster children as they enter new homes.Avamere Sandy was a reputation for contributing to efforts like Boxes of Love.

"For the last three years, we've adopted foster families at Christmas," Susan Leininger told The Post. "The 'Boxes of Love' program felt like a good fit."

Last year, Avamere helped provide Christmas presents for 120 foster children with their Christmas tag program, and the center raises about $2,000 a year for the Alzheimer's Association.

"It was just amazing the response last Christmas," Leininger said. "So I'm hoping this catches on and gives people ways to help out year-round and not just at Christmas."

The residents now are getting involved by knitting blankets for the boxes and painting locally made wooden puzzles and "love" rocks to be included with the packages. Besides providing a way for Avamere and the community of Sandy to give back, Leininger hopes Avamere's involvement will encourage people to visit the residents.

Leininger said in many ways elders and foster children are similar — both unfortunately can "fall through the cracks." So she hopes through helping foster children she can foster a relationship between residents at Avamere and the surrounding community.

"Our residents like to give back to the community as well," Leininger noted. "We love being part of the community."

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