“Here was all this talent and I had the opportunity to harness it,” she said. “I asked my mom, who had two miscarriages and would know firsthand how this would be received. She thought it was a great idea. “I couldn’t help thinking about the need that would come after this one-time project was done. People want to do good things to help others but don’t always know how to do them. This gives them the opportunity.” Since the program started, more than 90,000 boxes have been created. “I’m concerned about the way we grieve,” Leigh said. “After a baby’s death or miscarriage, we tell people to get over it and we’re quite gruff. To other people, a baby was just a bump in a woman’s stomach. They don’t realize that there were plans being made for that child. The boxes are a physical representation of that planning. “A lot of the painters have lost children themselves, and this is a way to give back. We encourage them to sign their boxes and include the Web site. There is an 80-year-old painter who dedicates her painting to a baby she lost when she was 16. Women don’t forget.” Augustin is doing just that, gaining strength from a stranger’s efforts on her behalf. “It gave me strength, and I could feel the love that this box was meant to give,” she said. “I got involved making the boxes as well, and it has helped me to get through this very hard time in my life.” Saugus resident Pat “Trish” Miller paints boxes for Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial and Antelope Valley hospitals, but if there is a need, she’ll ship boxes anywhere – even to the hospital in Madison, Wis., where she was born 69 years ago. “At least the parents walk out of the hospital with something in their arms,” she said. “I knew I had to do it when I heard about women who went to the hospital to have babies and came out with refuse bags containing information. “I just felt that for me, God gave me the desire and the heart to get into art. It’s up to me to give back and make a difference with my art. I have no idea how many boxes I’ve done. I don’t need a count. The Lord knows that.” As decorative painting studios close and popular art shifts from what used to be known as tole painting to ceramics and other mediums, fewer painters have been involved in the program. More than 1,600 boxes are needed to supply hospitals within the United States every month; recently, artists have been able to supply just 400. Lisa Lavizani is the clinical coordinator of obstetrics at Newhall Memorial and coordinates the Memory Box program at the local hospital. She said that the boxes help both parents and staff through a difficult time. “Each delivery is different,” she said. “We cry along with the patients when a baby dies. At the end, we give them the box and tell them they can put anything in there they want.” “We get a lot of tears and thanks, it’s difficult for everybody involved,” she said. To become a Memory Box painter, visit the Web site at www.memoryboxes.org. [email protected] (661) 257-5252160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Elizabeth Augustin didn’t put down the red and gold papier-mach box for a week. She had no idea who made it, but that didn’t matter to the grieving mother. The box, given to her after the sudden death of her infant daughter, Angelique, was one of thousands of Memory Boxes created every year by volunteer painters. “This group does so much and helps so many parents like myself in a time where you feel so lost and feel so many emotions all at once,” she said in an e-mail from her home in New York. “I cannot tell you what this box means to me, to think that total strangers are taking their personal time to think of parents who have been in this situation means more than anyone could understand.” Memory Boxes are smaller than shoeboxes, but large enough to contain locks of hair, hospital bracelets, certificates or dressing gowns belonging to the child. More than 600 hospitals around the globe work with the painters to provide the boxes to parents so they don’t have to leave empty-handed. Newhall resident Carolyn Levine was one of the first painters to join the program when it was founded in 1998, and she’s been painting ever since. “My sister had a miscarriage and then lost a child as an adult,” Levine said. “I realized I could use my talent as a painter and do an outreach at the same time. Thank God I have two healthy, intelligent, grown sons; I cannot imagine the pain these mothers must go through, but I can help in some little way by doing this.” Levine said she starts each box by saying a prayer for the baby who died. She prefers floral designs, eschewing clowns or “cutesy” animals, thinking of the years that the boxes will stay in a home. “I imagine parents putting these boxes in a closet and pulling them down once in awhile after the pain isn’t so bad as it is in the beginning,” she said. Memory Box founder Tera Leigh was running an online group for decorative painters when she heard about a group in Phoenix that was painting boxes as a one-time project.