Student care packages deliver holiday cheer amid COVID-19

Susan Ordonez with care package materials

Winter break is typically a time when University of Oregon students travel home to spend time with their families and relax after completing fall term finals. For some students, however, this year’s break means staying longer in Eugene while they isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19.

To add at least a little holiday cheer, the Office of the Dean of Students and the UO Corona Corps Care and Monitoring Team are delivering care packages to support and provide activities for these solitary students.

“These are all students who may have had plans to travel home after finals, but then they either tested positive for COVID-19 or were in close contact with a positive case,” said Susan Ordonez, interim off-campus coordinator in the Office of the Dean of Students. “As such, they’ve been asked by health authorities to not travel home right now and to stay in place for up to 14 days.”

The care packages include items such as hot cocoa and apple cider packets, coloring pages with crayons, a $10 gift card to the Duck Store, a card from the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art for writing a note to a loved one, and craft and watercolor kits from the Erb Memorial Union Craft Center and Center for Student Involvement.

Care package delivery was initially piloted for students who were in isolation or quarantine during the November break.

“Because of all the appreciative feedback from students and support from university leadership, the care packages are being continued over winter break,” Ordonez said. “All of our donors for last month’s packages were enthusiastic to contribute again, as well.”

To initiate distribution of the care packages, the Corona Corps reaches out via email to all positive cases and any close contacts who are UO students and being monitored. During the break, Corona Corps emails between one and four students each day. Provided with an online registration link, students can opt in, give their delivery location and choose a delivery date for their care package.

A majority of the packages during winter break will be delivered to off-campus students.

Off-campus delivery by dean of students staff began Dec. 16 and will happen twice a week.

“The students have been so appreciative and thankful,” Ordonez said. “Even if they have roommates, they have to stay separated from them. It’s rewarding to bring a little bit of joy to their day.”

By Colleen Schlonga, Student Services and Enrollment Management