Care packages from home, personal handwritten notes, sweet treats during the cold winter season: these are among the thoughtful gifts many students receive from their families that help create fond memories of college life. As students brace for another semester plagued by the coronavirus pandemic, those in isolation on campus are among the most in need of a kind gesture to lift their spirits.
Carol DeNysschen, professor and chair of the Health, Nutrition, and Dietetics Department, came up with the idea to send care packages to students in isolation who have contracted COVID-19 or been exposed to the virus. She said she was inspired by hearing the story of one student who made her think of all the others in similar situations.
“I was in a meeting with some people from Student Affairs, and they were talking about how a student was waiting for a care package from home, and the package, through no fault of the college, was delayed,” she said. “It made me think of when I was in college, how my aunt and uncle sent me care packages all the time. I thought, why couldn’t we be their family while they’re here and deliver these time-efficient gift bags?”
Care packages include Bengal cookies, a mug with hot cocoa, and a personalized note.
That was the moment DeNysschen came up with the Support a Student initiative: Buffalo State College faculty and staff members can make a $15 donation to send a care package to a quarantined or isolated student. The package includes goodies like Bengal cookies, a mug with hot cocoa, and a personalized note. While the packages will not be assigned to a particular student, donors can request that their gift be sent to a student within a particular academic area. In assembling the packages, DeNysschen was inspired by both her own college experience and her children.
The encouragement she received from the Buffalo State community reassured her that this new show of student support was much needed amid the challenges students are facing.
“The response from faculty and staff was just overwhelming,” she said. “I was so thrilled with the support. This is an amazing campus, and the messages that the donors wanted written were very inspiring and encouraging.”
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Jim Mayrose attested to the necessity of reaching out to students who are struggling with feeling separated both from their immediate community and from their families. “This academic year, like no other, has been challenging for many Buffalo State College students,” Mayrose said. “For students in quarantine from COVID-19, there is an increased feeling of isolation and stress. It is my hope that the students receiving these care packages will appreciate knowing that faculty and staff are thinking of them, and that the care we are sending is more than just items in a box.”
Getting the plan in motion for the initiative was a team effort that brought many areas of the campus community together. DeNysschen worked with Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, Institutional Advancement, and the Weigel Wellness Center to ensure that putting together and sending out the care packages would be successful in the long run.
“Everybody was so helpful setting this up,” she said. “Everyone gave me ideas and support that I needed. It was so nice to have everybody excited about this. And it’s really cross-campus, not only for students but for administration. Everybody’s involved.”
Mayrose added, “Together we will help our students through these difficult times. I would like to thank Dr. DeNysschen for her tireless effort in bringing this initiative to fruition.”
While DeNysschen said she always admired the college for its “students first” method of operating, she believes the Support a Student initiative will allow others in the community to see what makes the campus culture so special.
“Buffalo State’s campus is a community of people who care, and we’re all seeing it firsthand,” she said.
Pictured top: Carol DeNysschen assembles student care packages.
Photo by Bruce Fox, campus photographer.