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The Scarlet & Black

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Feven Getachew
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The scoop on finals care packages


As Hell Week is drawing to a close and Finals Week looms on the horizon, there are many ways to help students push through this crucial time in the semester. While there are plenty of study breaks across campus that provide cookies and puppies, sometimes the motivation for that one last push comes in the form of a care package.

Some students receive a care package from their family and friends, but for those who aren’t as fortunate, there are other options, and one of them is the College’s care package program.

About 400 care packages were ordered this year during the semi-annual Student Alumni Council sponsored Finals Care Package event. Photograph by Sarah Ruiz.
About 400 care packages were ordered this year during the semi-annual Student Alumni Council sponsored Finals Care Package event. Photograph by Sarah Ruiz.

“Each semester, the Student Alumni Council facilitates an opportunity for parents, alumni and friends of the College to order care packages for students they know,” Michelle Czarnecki, the program’s organizer and Assistant Director of Alumni Relations for Student Programs wrote in an email to The S&B. “Additional packages called ‘kindness packages’ [are also distributed] to students whose parents have not purchased a care package and may need a pick-me-up at the end of the semester.”

The students who receive a care package from this program are notified in advance.

“[They] receive a note from the Student Alumni Council in their mailbox the week care packages will be delivered,” Czarnecki wrote. “Additionally, they receive an email the night before care packages are handed out reminding them of the location and time for [the] pick up.”

The Student Alumni Association (now known as the Student Alumni Council) first conceived the program in 1995, after observing the practice at other peer institutions. 

The donors of the packages include a wide range of people.

“Each semester, the Student Alumni Council mails a letter written by its current president to parents, alumni and friends of the College informing them of the program and encouraging them to purchase care packages for students as well as kindness care packages,” Czarnecki wrote.

“Friends of the College” represents an assortment of individuals—faculty, staff, host families of international students and even community members.

And it seems that many people make good use of this program.

“[For care packages,] fall semester usually yields the highest orders, typically around 400, while the spring yields slightly smaller orders of around 350.” Czarnecki wrote. “[For kindness care packages], parents, alumni and friends donate around 50 a semester.”

Multiple organizations on campus are involved in determining who gets the kindness care packages.

“The Assistant Director of Alumni Relations for Student Programs reaches out to Student Affairs, the Center for Religion, Spirituality and Social Justice, the Office for Intercultural Engagement and others for names of students who could use a pick-me-up,” Czarnecki wrote.

The anonymity of the donor depends on that person, with some donors choosing to write a note to the recipient, while others remaining anonymous.

The content of the care packages varies each semester, and is decided by the Student Alumni Council.

“[They] usually contain a variety of food items, ranging from the healthier granola bars to the less healthy Twix bars,” Czarnecki wrote. A specialty item is also included for fun. “This semester’s item is a pair of headphones in a case that has the Student Alumni Council’s thumbprint laurel leaf logo on it,” she added.

This year, the students who were notified were able to receive their packages on Wednesday, Dec. 10 in JRC 101. Ayon Dey ’18 received one from his host parents. “I feel happy that there’s someone in the world who would send this to us when we’re suffering during Hell Week,” he said. “I’m glad my host parents sent this to me.”

Like Dey’s, the overall reactions of receiving the care packages are positive.

“Generally the students who get the care packages are very excited,” Czarnecki wrote. “They love seeing what new or different food items we provide as well as enjoy getting a different novelty item each semester.”

Czarnecki believes that the care package system is effective in helping to cope with the last two weeks of the semester.

“I am grateful that many Grinnellian alumni, parents and friends send care packages not only to Grinnellians they know but also purchase kindness packages so that we can try and reach students who need a happy surprise during finals!” she wrote.

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