Most seniors headed into their freshman year of college are ready for their independence and new experiences. As they stretch out toward a new beginning, it is comforting and assuring for them to know that the people back home are thinking of them and praying for them. We can do this in many ways, by sending texts, letters, verses of scripture, etc., but the best way I know to show our freshman love is through care packages. Not only does this make them feel loved, but it gives us an outlet to show how much we are missing him or her at home.
Starting in September, I gathered a small group of friends to start a care package group. Each one had a college freshman, and each one wanted to be consistent in sending encouragement through the mail. We decided to meet the first Monday of each month. Half of the time would be spent exchanging items, the other half would be for prayer.
Here are the specifics of our care package group (you can tailor the specifics to your groups needs, personalities, etc.)
*Moms of college freshman. We also had some moms with multiple children in college, so they would include a package for their older college kids as well.
*We also counted how many boys and girls there were so that we could get gender appropriate items when necessary.
*Bring one item per student. For example, if someone had two college kids, she would bring two items for every person in the group.
*We did not give a dollar amount on the items (with the exception of the very last one, which was $5).
Sometimes the groups work better if you give some general, specific parameters upfront. For example:
- No dollar store items
- No perishable food (unless it will last for a week)
- If you cannot attend that month, please give two or more weeks notice so people don’t buy something for your child
- Specify allergies or special dietary needs
Here are some examples of items we sent in the care packages:
- Playing cards
- Chocolate covered Oreos
- Signs for dorm rooms
- Bouncy balls
- Scripture cards
- Hand soap
- Super Glue or Gorilla Glue
- Santa hats
- Christmas lights
- Pop Sockets
- Trail Mix
- Sea Salt Caramels
- Starbucks gift cards
- antibacterial lotions
- Hand / Feet warmers
- Laundry Detergent
- Quarters for laundry
- Beef Jerky
- Hot Chocolate / Cider Mix
- $5 bills
- favorite family holiday treats (ie. peanut brittle)
- Axe spray (for men)
- EOS lip balm or hand lotion
- Microwave popcorn packets
We had a loose “theme” for every month:
October – Welcome to college!
November – Thankful for you
December – Christmas & Finals
January – New Year Hopes and Dreams
February – Valentines – you’re loved
March – March madness about you J
April – Easter – He is Risen!
May – Finals means you’re done! ($5 item)
*I also made a printable for each month for everyone to put in their care package. One of the kids commented that this was her favorite part of the packages. While it isn’t totally necessary, it is a fun addition.
*Bring a bag, a box, or something else to put the items in to take home. Some people like to bring their care package box so it’s ready to put in the mail the next day!
We had each of the meetings at the same house, but you could rotate houses. I would send out a text one week before to remind everyone of the theme, the time, the gender break down in numbers, and the place.
Of course this is a totally optional part of the care package group, but we did offer it for those that wanted to stay. Freshman year can be a challenge for many young adults as they maneuver their brave new world. One of the most helpful things we can do to support them is to pray, and gather other voices to pray. You can choose a verse each time, and focus on that one area, or simply share and pray over specific needs.
My daughter just finished her freshman year of college, and she is already saying, “Remember that time you sent me care packages every month? I really, really liked that!” (hint – do it again next year). While I’m not sure I’ll do it every month in the coming college years, I’ll be sure to be intentional about continuing the tradition at least every few months.
It’s a small effort for making her feel big love from home.