The Memory Box Program
When children die, their final moments become the most personal, powerful, and painful moments in the lives of their family. Creating memories and treasuring the keepsakes that are part of each child’s life journey becomes an integral part of support for families.
“When someone you love dies,
their life becomes a memory
and that memory
becomes a treasure.”
- Author unknown
Prior to the development of the original Children's Hospital of Western Ontario Memory Box Program, keepsakes from a child’s bedside, including photos, sibling artwork, and armband were placed into a bag to be taken home with the family.
The Memory Box Program started in the Paediatric Critical Care Unit (PCCU) of the London Childrens Hospital in 1996 with funding from the Harvey Sullivan Departmental Scholarship. The Memory boxes were designed and built by Robert Vosper. With funding from the Semkowski Family Foundation in 2005, this program expanded to include children and families from all areas of the Childrens Hospital London.
In 2006, the Lambeth Lions Club took over the provision of these boxes for both the Neonatal Critical Care Unit (NICU) and the Paediatric Critical Care Unit (PCCU) at the London Childrens Hospital.
The Lambeth Lions Memory Boxes are 10 x 13 inch, handmade red oak wooden boxes with dovetail joinery of various types. Our favourite dovetails resemble teddy bear ears. These boxes provide a special place for the families to place keepsakes such as a bed card, photos, a lock of hair, a religious symbol, poems, care provider letters, a handprint, or a casting of a hand or foot that provide treasured memories for families. We have the opportunity to help touch the lives of children and families in a very special way by creating memory boxes to support this valuable program.
To make each memory box takes about ten hours to complete. Our major costs are for materials, some equipment and shop supplies. The members of the Lambeth Lions Club freely donate all labour, tools, equipment, and craftsmanship. We produce on average about 70 Memory Boxes each year.