Some of you may remember what it was like to receive that special care package from home when you were away at college. A box of goodies filled with some of your favorite comfort things – just the boost you needed to help you make it through the next exam or the end of the semester. Did you know that ILYA (Independent Living for Young Adults) has a Student Care Packages project that does exactly that for young adults who are pursuing higher education?
Several First U members support ILYA students who are attending the University of Delaware (UD), Delaware State and Del Tech Community College. Volunteers send or deliver four care packages at key times during the academic school year, sometimes with an additional special package or gift sent for the students’ birthdays. The contents are tailored to the preferences and needs of each student who communicate these initially through his/her Independent Living Coordinator at the Division of Family Services. Volunteers then customize their packages accordingly, filling them with a variety of items such as baked goods, favorite snacks, gift cards, bus passes, dorm or apartment décor, hygiene items, school supplies and more.
Member Kathie Stamm began supporting an ILYA student in 2020 when he started his freshman year at UD as a mechanical engineering major, living on campus year-round. She says, “For me, the project accomplishes two main objectives. It lets the students know there is someone in the community that cares about them and is thinking of them. It also is an opportunity to give the students something that we know they need and will make their life easier and more meaningful.”
Member Crystal Oswald shares the same sentiment. Her ILYA student will be a sophomore at Del State this fall, majoring in forensics. “The care packages provide the expectation that someone will be there for the students and that they are part of our community.” Crystal involves her three young children in putting together each package and uses the opportunity to teach them about the importance of including others. Each package has a personalized seasonal theme. For example, hot chocolate, a homemade blanket and holiday decorations for the winter package and flip flops and gift cards as part of the summer-themed basket. They’ve even included dog biscuits for the student’s dog!
Interested in learning more? A Zoom info session is being planned for the end of summer that will provide an overview, followed by a full orientation in September for members and friends who wish to get more involved. Stay tuned for more details!