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Education — Veritas senior Brianna Stoppa collected for and donated 60 "welcome boxes" to Yamhill County Health and Human Services



When Brianna Stoppa began considering what to do for her Poesis (or senior) project, the only thing the Veritas student knew was that she wanted to focus on community service.

She decided to investigate a program her mother came across a few years ago but never followed up on.Photo Credit: SETH GORDON - Fostering comfort - For her Poesis, or senior project, Veritas senior Brianna Stoppa collected and delivered more than 60 ‘Welcome Boxes,' which are filled with toys, games, snacks and personal hygiene products, to Yamhill County Health and Human Services so that children will have something to do while waiting to be placed and something of their own to bring to their new foster home.

Since 2012, Embrace Oregon has been donating “welcome boxes” filled with games, toys and snacks so that children could stay occupied at the Department of Human Services (DHS) office while they waited to be moved to a new home.

What Stoppa found was that Embrace Oregon did not have anybody that coordinated welcome boxes for Yamhill County, so she decided to step up and fill those shoes, at least temporarily.

After about two months of collecting items, Stoppa put together more than 60 boxes and delivered them to Yamhill County Health and Human Services (HHS) in McMinn­ville.

“They were ready to receive these boxes because they had only had a couple come in from churches,” Stoppa said.

Part of the idea behind welcome boxes, which also include toiletries, is to give foster children something of their own to bring to their new homes.

To collect items, Stoppa enlisted the help of her schoolmates. Secondary students at Veritas are organized into four different houses, each of which runs a holiday outreach project every year.

The senior, who played volleyball at Veritas for three years and runs track for Tigard High School, convinced her house to take on the project, which involved each student donating an item or two. She left collection bins in each classroom, hoping to gather enough items to fill 40 to 60 boxes.

“We met and exceeded our goal,” Stoppa said. “There was great participation.”

Since the Poesis project is a part of teacher Geary Linhart’s rhetoric class, Stoppa and all other seniors must also write a rhetorical thesis during the second semester and present it to the rest of the school this spring.

Linhart noted that Stoppa took a lot of initiative to work with headmaster Bryan Lynch on communicating the project to the rest of the school. That involved a fair amount of frustration along the way, but he said she did well to handle it independently and patiently.

“We really want this to be theirs, to be owned by them,” Linhart said. “That’s a great example, even if it was frustrating for Brianna. She made the school look good all on her own. She did a great job.”

For more information on welcome boxes, including how to assemble them, visit www.embraceoregon.com.

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