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UMass students hope to lift spirits of Boston victims

Two theology students embrace following a vigil for Boston University student Lingzi Lu, who was killed in the Boston Marathon explosions, outside the school's Marsh Chapel, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Boston. The city continues to cope following Monday's explosions near the finish line of the marathon, which claimed three lives. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Two theology students embrace following a vigil for Boston University student Lingzi Lu, who was killed in the Boston Marathon explosions, outside the school's Marsh Chapel, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Boston. The city continues to cope following Monday's explosions near the finish line of the marathon, which claimed three lives. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) Purchase photo reprints »

“One of my best friends was at the finish line at the race and I didn’t now how she was doing for a long time,” Roosa said.

As she followed the news, and eventually found her friend was safe, Roosa was compelled to see if she could give aid to victims, contacting hospitals, the Salvation Army and the city of Boston.

When she was told there was not much to be done immediately, and that she should wait, she decided to see what could be done on a campus.

At 1 a.m. Tuesday, she came up with the idea of Boxes for Boston, a way of bringing 176 boxes filled with letters and notes to the victims, as well as candy and goodies, that she said might cheer up those injured.

“Really, whatever would lift their spirits,” Roosa said. “Our job is complete if we get them to smile.”

Roosa, from Tucson, Ariz., said she has no connections to Boston, but feels from her own experience, as a child spending time in hospitals, she knows something about what people might need.

“What I enjoyed most was something that made me smile,” she said.

According to Roosa, the ideal would be to match one UMass student with one injured person. The students would place in boxes what they would want to comfort them under similar circumstances, recognizing that victims are of all ages.

Roosa got boxes from UPS, but found them too large, and she’s now trying to get shoe boxes donated that are better for the project.

While still uncertain when the volunteers will put them together, she is hoping to have a day, perhaps early next week at the Campus Center, when the UMass community, as well as the public, will help fill and decorate the boxes.

“What I’m hoping is everyone will come together for this,” Roosa said.

So far, she has found that a lot of people want to contribute.

“The whole UMass community has been extraordinarily helpful,” Roosa said.

She has set up both a Facebook page and a website, boxesforboston.webs.com, and can be reached at 520-370-7735 or by email at danielle.d.roosa@gmail.com for those who want to assist.

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