Hi Hokie families! Whether you’re visiting your students for Family Weekend or sending them love from home, here are a few tips on how to create a care package for them this fall. I wrote my original piece back in 2020, when learning was entirely virtual for us, so I made a few changes to the content to fit our unique fall 2021 semester. We hope this helps!
Hokie parents: It has been almost a month since your child’s move-in. While parting with them in their clean, well-decorated dorm (thanks to your help) may have been tougher than expected, life has probably gotten easier every day as you’ve both adjusted to the change.
Now that your Hokies have gone through their snacks, familiarized themselves with course schedules and compiled a list of what they forgot during move-in, it’s the ideal time to send them a care package. And the truth is — they don’t just need refills on Easy Mac and Tide Pods. They would also adore receiving something close-to-home, especially as they return to campus after over a year of virtual learning..
These are a given. Masks and hand sanitizer have become two must-haves in the daily lives of all Hokies this semester. All Hokies must wear masks in on-campus buildings and classrooms, so the more they have to cycle through, the merrier. Whether you’re at home sewing fabric masks as a pastime, or you happen to run across a box of disposable medical masks at your local grocery store, send some along to your student in your care package. Accompany the masks with portable hand sanitizer for their backpack or car and a larger bottle for their dorm as well. Although these COVID-19 essentials are far from exciting, your Hokie’s face will light up when they see them and know they’re covered (literally).
You know your kid’s favorite self-care essentials best, so shower your care package with their go-to shampoo and conditioner, face wash, deodorant, shaving cream, toothpaste, laundry detergent, and anything else you can think of. Now that they’re attending in-person classes again, they can’t slack on their hygiene like they may have during virtual learning.
While students have a wide array of dining options, we all still crave our favorite snacks that we can’t access anywhere other than a grocery store. Throw some of your Hokie’s top-choice treats in your care package so they’re set on study snacks for the next few weeks. Just be careful if you send meltable food items, as those could easily perish in a package that takes longer-than-expected to deliver.
Cold and flu medicine
While our main concern is the spread of COVID-19, we’re still approaching cold and flu season. The “Hokie Plague,” otherwise known as the common cold, has been hitting several students already. It’s important that your Hokie has basic forms of medicine in their dorm if they were to pick up a germ somewhere. Pain relievers, nasal decongestants, cough suppressants and antihistamines are a few essentials that your student could have on-hand before seeking necessary care from a doctor. PS: Your student would also appreciate a few boxes of tissues so they don’t need to hoard rolls of one-ply toilet paper from their communal bathroom when they’re feeling extra sniffly.
Gift cards or spending money
Having a gift card or a little extra spending money in your wallet always brings comfort and fun to students when running errands or going out to eat. Check out what local restaurants and shops are scattered around Blacksburg for gift card ideas, and tell your Hokie to treat themselves sometime soon! Especially while holding extra stresses on their shoulders this semester, students could use any excuse for retail therapy or a nice (and safe) dinner out with friends.
Let’s be honest — after a week or two, dorm rooms tend to smell stale and odorous after leftover dining hall meals and other trash have been sitting in the blue recycling bin under your student’s sink. And the biggest problem is, they’re probably numb to the smells by now. Send them an air freshener or small oil diffuser with their favorite scented oils in your care package, and they'll be more than thankful.
Nostalgic items and boredom busters
Sprinkle your Hokie’s care package with childhood memorabilia they can use to pass the time with their roommates and close friends. If your student and their roommates prefer to spend their nights in, encourage them to make their dorm or apartment fun and nostalgic. Board games, decks of cards, craft kits, movies and old video games will all suffice. Not only will their boredom be busted, but they’ll think of you and fun, family times as they play.
A note from the family
Once your cardboard box is full of goodies and necessities, take some time to write a note to your Hokie as a final touch to your love-filled care package. Tell them how they can find purpose for each item, remind them that you’re always thinking of them and offer reassurance that they’ll get through this crazy, unusual semester (and so will you). Even if they act like being away from home is no big deal, receiving a thoughtful care package will feel that way.