Embrace Welcome Box Project : Pacific Northwest Region
In the Summer of 2019, Young Adults (YA) at the Beaverton Sai Center in Oregon proposed a service project that became adopted by all other Sai Centers in the Pacific Northwest Region, as an offering for Sai Baba’s 94th birthday, November, 23, 2019. Sai Center members, led by the YAs, put together and donated Welcome Boxes to Embrace Oregon, a non-profit organization which serves children in the foster care system. The Welcome Boxes are given to foster children when they first enter foster care and wait to be united with their new families in a DHS (Department of Human Services) child welfare office. The Welcome Box contains essentials like toothpaste, toothbrushes, flashlights and night lights, as well as child friendly toys such as coloring books, crayons and LEGO toys that bring comfort and relief to the children during a very vulnerable and stressful time.
The YAs coordinated the procurement and the unpacking of items that went into the welcome boxes, and transported the completed welcome boxes to Portland. Younger children made heart-warming greeting cards with messages of love and care. Older children and adults decorated the welcome boxes with creative art work and added positive messages. Another team assembled the boxes with the essential items and toys.
A total of 135 welcome boxes were assembled across the region and collected during Sathya Sai Baba's 94th birthday celebrations. Youth leaders then delivered the boxes to the Embrace staff, who were very grateful and pleasantly surprised to see so many welcome boxes.
A young adult coordinator described what motivated her to pursue the project: "There are thousands of children who are homeless or without parents. Some of them are moved to a different house every other week and spend every moment anxiously, not knowing if it is their last day in that house. These children, some as young as my two-year old son, may wait at a DHS office for hours with no toys and nothing to do. The Embrace Welcome Box makes that wait a little more bearable. I hope that these boxes of love bring some happiness to at least one child somewhere." Another coordinator noted, “There are a few service projects that provide the opportunity to bring the entire center together. The Embrace Welcome Box project was one such project, where there was a role for everyone (be it a kid, young adult or an adult) to contribute to the project. Overall, it was a rewarding experience.”