Care Packages Helped Quarantined Students This Fall
by Amber Friedrichsen
Faculty and students in the Iowa State University Animal Science Department offered care packages to quarantined COVID-19 students this fall.
Jodi Sterle, professor in animal science, said the idea for care packages came up as students arrived on campus. Several students were in quarantine at the beginning of the semester because they had either tested positive for COVID-19 or were exposed to someone who did.
Members of the Block and Bridle Club assembled the care packages with items that would be fun and useful for their peers.
“Cough drops, snacks, hand sanitizer, a pen, Emergen-C,” Sterle said. “Food was not the problem. ISU Dining was providing food to the quarantined students and a lot of times they weren’t eating it all. We got them a little lunch kit to store their leftovers.”
The contents were gifted in a red Iowa State tote bag. Students also received a foam pig stress ball and a laptop sticker with a note that read, “We are thinking of you during this difficult time. Hang in there. Hope you feel better soon.”
The animal science department reached out to all of its students, not just those who were sick, saying anyone was welcome to take a care package.
“We didn’t ask them any medical information,” Sterle said. “We just reached out and said, ‘Hey, if you guys are interested in receiving a little care package so you know we are thinking of you, just let us know.’"
If a student replied, Justin Chapman, student services specialist for the animal science department, made arrangements for a contactless delivery.
Kiana Smutzler, sophomore in animal science, found herself in quarantine after a possible exposure to COVID-19. She replied to the email to receive a care package and it was delivered the next day.
“It was honestly so nice,” Smutzler said. “Me and my roommates sat out in our living room and it felt like Christmas. We opened the packages together and we were like, ‘Oh my gosh, the animal science department is so cool.’”
Smutzler faced unexpected challenges this semester, both academically and personally. The care package helped remind her she was not alone.
“I am proud to be in animal science and to be part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences,” Smutzler said. “I’ve always felt like we have a really strong program and we are so cared about by everyone in it.”
This sense of belonging is what Sterle said the care packages helped provide.
“The mental strain of being isolated has been hard on students,” Sterle said. “It doesn’t solve the problem, but it just lets them know someone is thinking about them.”