UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The goal of the Jared Box Project is to uplift the spirits of children in the hospital. The boxes themselves — as well as the project website and related materials — recently got a “lift” of their own, thanks to Penn State graphic design students Meagh Cafferty and Annie Seighman. After designing a new logo for the Jared Box Project as part of a class assignment, Cafferty and Seighman went on to volunteer their time to redesign the non-profit organization’s website and marketing materials.
A Jared Box — named for a State College boy who died of cancer in 2001 — is a plastic storage box filled with age- and gender-appropriate gifts, toys and other activities. Individuals and organizations across the country buy and fill the boxes, affix a Jared Box label, and deliver them to local hospitals. The labels, which now feature the new logo, are downloaded from the Jared Box Project website. More than 200,000 Jared Boxes have been delivered in 47 states.
The project relies solely on word-of-mouth and donations from individuals and groups, explained Cindy Kolarik, founder and director of the Jared Box Project. What started as a small activity in vacation bible school at a State College Catholic church has evolved into a nationwide effort to put a smile on the faces of children in the hospital.
While the Jared Boxes were serving their purpose, Kolarik knew the organization’s logo and the labels used on the boxes could use a little facelift. So she got in touch with neighbor Kristin Sommese, a graphic design professor at Penn State, who gave her students the assignment of redesigning the Jared Box logo. Kolarik chose Cafferty and Seighman’s logo because of its whimsical yet polished design.
“The ‘smile’ logo that they created is perfect for us, because it crosses all ages,” said Kolarik.
Kolarik was happy to have a new logo, but was ecstatic when Annie and Meagh volunteered to redesign the Jared Box Project’s website and other marketing materials.
“Meagh and Annie really wanted to help the Jared Box Project. They had little experience in web design and development, but they learned as they went along. They were phenomenal to work with.”
Annie and Meagh said they enjoyed working for an “amazing cause.”
“Cindy was so appreciative of everything we did, the entire time,” said Annie, noting the project is a great addition to her portfolio. “It’s nice for our career goals because this is an extensive portfolio piece, and along the way we were able to teach ourselves to code a responsive website. That skill is a huge plus for designers in our field.”
According to Meagh, this project was different from other class assignments. “This is one of the most relevant projects we’ve had because it actually came to fruition and is live, instead of just a proof-of-concept like most of our student work.”
For Kolarik, the project is a “game-changer.”
“The materials they designed are so polished, and will help the project grow even more,” she said. “They are professional quality, top-notch. They will be a huge help for the Jared Box Project.”
Kolarik noted the Jared Box Project has been fortunate to have assistance from other Penn Staters, including public relations students who developed a marketing plan, and business students who will be helping the organization gain corporate sponsorship.
“The Jared Box Project is such a feel-good project,” said Kolarik. “As soon as people here about it, they want to make boxes. I love volunteering for this — it’s very rewarding.”
For more information and to see some of the materials designed by Cafferty and Seighman, visit thejaredbox.com.