Partnerships across campus provide students with quarantine care packages

CSU Care Package Drop Off

A care package collection event organized by Housing & Dining Services, the Alumni Association and University Advancement.

Even small gestures make a big difference, especially for the students who experienced COVID-related isolation and quarantine on campus.

Throughout the academic year, representatives from Housing & Dining Services, the Alumni Association and University Advancement collected donations and assembled care packages that were delivered to students as they were moved to quarantine or isolation, enabling the campus community to pull together to offer encouragement and support to those being temporarily displaced.

“Through this unique partnership with HDS, Alumni, Advancement and RHA, we were able to engage the community — including students — in supporting our students as they navigated their quarantine experience,” said Christie Mathews, director of projects and outreach for Housing & Dining Services, who spearheaded the HDS part of the effort.

The packages were made up of various items – some which were consumable, some health-related such as dental care items from the CSU Health Network, and other things that just added a little fun.

“Puzzles, art supplies, crafts, Legos and many things to do with your hands,” Mathews said. “I loved the ideas that came forward and the donations that were made, which gave students activities, crafts, and plants to care for while they were in quarantine.”

Herb growing kits

CSU Plants For Students
Some students received care packages with herb growing kits.

Thanks to a first-year student Eco Leader project, a limited number of the packages also included herb growing kits with seeds, soil, a container and instructions for growing a basil plant. Eco Leaders are peer educators in the residence halls and Aggie Village apartments, who help raise awareness about environmental, social and economic sustainability issues.

Durward Hall Eco Leader Abi Somers took the initiative to add the plant kits to the care packages to encourage students to take an interest in nature and to see the benefits that plants can have on mental health. She applied for a grant and received funding through the CSU Residence Hall Association for 50 kits.

Not only do plants add an aesthetic element to the physical environment, but they also have many benefits on overall well-being – a bonus for those impacted by COVID-19. Studies indicate that growing indoor plants have been shown to boost moods, increase creativity, reduce stress, improve productivity, and eliminate air pollutants.

“As Eco Leaders, we each get to complete an independent project our second semester. I wanted to do something related to COVID-19 since it has impacted us in such a big way,” said Somers, a first-year biomedical sciences major. “I know for me, COVID-19 has been a burden mentally, and I imagine this burden intensifies when quarantined. I wanted to connect students with the environment even while confined to their rooms, and I researched that plants can also help elevate your mood.”

Another engaging addition to the care packages came from the Student Leadership, Involvement & Community Engagement office, with a Post-It note art activity, which enabled students in quarantine to connect through an activity, with other students across campus.

As long as there are students in quarantine on campus, packages will be prepared and distributed through the summer. Three-hundred sixty packages have been distributed to date. Mathews noted that RHA funded the last 60 care packages to finish out the semester and transition to summer.

“These partnerships were all focused on supporting students in what could be a challenging time for them, a great example of ‘Rams take care, Rams take action,’” she said.