A Turlock, California, kindergartener has a plan to spread joy, and it started in his family’s front yard.
Six-year-old Levi Navarra has created what he calls a “joy box,” a small mailbox in his yard where people can leave their wishes.
The Navarra family, which wants to fulfill some of those wishes, said the joy box started with Levi’s own wish to spread happiness in their community.
“I’m super proud of him,” said Dan Navarra, Levi’s father.
“I think every parent’s dream for their kid is that they just are a good human being, especially in today’s day and age, where there’s so much divisiveness and frustration and hostility,” he said.
“Nobody ever walked up to a joy box and said, ‘Man, this thing is just a pain.’”
Levi’s joy box was inspired by his wish to take every kid in their town to Disneyland. When his parents said that wasn’t realistic, he suggested hosting a pancake party for his class.
That was doable. The family hosted a pancake party, which expanded to include friends and neighbors, in their front yard. Over 80 people attended the party, which included games and a bounce house.
The Navarras wanted to do more. They thought about putting a small book swap library box in their front yard, but they ran into complications when they tried to install one that Dan bought at an auction. (It was too big.)
Disappointed but undaunted, Levi suggested something else: building a box where people could include their wishes.
“My wife (Amy) is great,” Dan said. “She takes a spark of an idea with him and lets him build a fire out of it. So they went to Home Depot, and they picked up stuff, and came up with a name – and here we are. We put it up in the front yard, and we’re going for it.”
The joy box has pens and “wish sheets” inside on which people can write their wish, hope or dream, and put it in the mail slot on the box.
“Once a month, we’ll sit down as a family and we’ll look at all of them together and see what resonates with Levi,” Dan said.
“My wife and I are going to look at what we can do that’s reasonable and what makes sense for us financially. Some of them may not be financial. Some of them might be, ‘we need a babysitter.’”
“We’d love to do that,” he said.
When the box was ready, the family printed out 65 wish sheets for people to write on. Within a week, after being visited by people driving by or walking their dogs, they only had two left.
Some people will take a sheet and fill it out right there in their car, Dan said. Others might take it home and have conversations with their families about their needs and dreams.
“The other part that’s been amazing is people who have stepped forward and said, ‘You know what, I love this, and I want to be a part of making people’s wishes come true,’” Dan said.
Some of their neighbors have chipped in by giving money to Levi to support people’s wishes, making Levi’s project a catalyst for a giving, altruistic community.
“It has parlayed into other people wanting to help spread joy, and this is the vehicle that’s doing it,” Dan said. “We’re really excited to take an accounting of what’s been given and how we can redistribute it.”
The wish sheets have become more than a place where people jot down a few words. Some people have flipped the page and kept writing, getting in touch with needs and desires they may have been unaware of at first, Dan said.
Levi believes the idea for the joy box will “spread like wildfire” to other communities and the world, his father said.