While there are numerous avenues of support to help adults and families through the loss of a parent or sibling, coping with this tremendous loss is very difficult. In particular, children are not equipped to understand how or why this untimely death could happen. In the days and weeks immediately following a death, children are often lost. We know from personal experience that familiar things and everyday treats can lift up a child during a time of great loss.
The JennaJackPack Project was inspired by the empathetic act of a 13-year-old-boy. Driven by an overwhelming sadness and sympathy, Johnny and his mother, Lana, wanted to do something to help John, after the tragic loss of his sister, Jenna. He wanted to comfort John any way he could, and he wanted him to know that his peers were thinking of him, so Lana, Johnny and a friend bought snacks, treats and candy, and delivered it to John at his home.
In the midst of his shock, grief and disbelief, this package of goodies gave John a sense of comfort and hope. The gift of everyday treats was remarkable. It connected him to his peers and let him know how much they cared. For Johnny, finding a meaningful way to express his sympathy helped him process his grief.
It was this act of kindness and empathy that inspired the formation of the JennaJackPack Project. Working with schools, youth groups, businesses and local communities, we raise funds to create and deliver customized JennaJackPacks to children coping with the loss of a parent or sibling. A bundle of love for kids, when a child in mourning opens a JennaJackPack, it’s like getting a reassuring hug.
Carol Girven, Lina Keogh, Nora Mende
Cathy S. Nolan
To learn more about our inspiration for the JennaJackPack Project, please click here.