To College Kid with Love, From Mom: Care Packages from Home
After graduating from Bellaire High School in 2018, Sarah Macia took a gap year studying abroad in India. Her mom, Jennifer shared, “Last year I cried all weekend before Sarah was scheduled to leave. I slept in her bed when she was gone. I was a mess. Letting go is hard no matter how close or far away they go.”
Fortunately, the Macia family quickly realized that technology like FaceTime and WhatsApp have made the world a much smaller place and were able to keep in touch over the year. “It was great to have Sarah back in Houston over the summer and have the house filled with the noise of [Sarah] and her friends again. Driving her to start college at Duke this fall was much easier. No tears, the cord had already been cut, and after all, she was only one time zone away now.”
Jennifer continued, “But not so fast, Mama. On the last day when we were about to drive back to Texas and had already said our official goodbyes, I planted myself in just the right spot to see Sarah walk by one more time - that’s not stalking, is it? I still felt a pit in my stomach as I watched her coolly stroll by, talking with new friends, a simple wave and a nod of the head in my direction. Yes, letting go is hard.”
New college mom, Theresa Bosley, whose daughter Isabella, a Bellaire High School graduate, is now at Texas Tech, knew the perfect way to ease her “my-child-left-for-college” blues…a Girls Night Out! Last month, she rounded up fellow 2019 moms at the ‘401 Table and Tap to catch up and compare their kids’ college stories. Many in the group had spent the past decade watching each other’s children grow up since the Condit Elementary years.
Tara Whitting, whose son JR Jordan, a 2019 Bellaire grad, is also at Texas Tech, wasn’t able to make the party but emailed the group: “I’m quite positive [JR] is doing better than me. I still can’t help but well up every morning when I don’t see his car in the driveway. OMG! Don’t know about you gals...but no one put this part in my discharge papers when I left the hospital in June 2001!”
Leslie Crossman Loughhead whose twins Hunter (now at University of Texas at San Antonio) and Connor (now at Louisiana State University) were both BHS grads, was able to join the fun and was thankful to reconnect. “It’s been very special to have our kids grow up together and having all of us become friends. It helps to support each other through this transition,” she said.
Martha Gillis whose daughter Juliet is now at Texas Christian University and graduated from St. Agnes in 2019 suggested gathering again to make Halloween care packages for their freshmen. Everyone toasted to the fantastic idea and Theresa suggested adding to the fun by wearing gear from their children’s colleges.
The first week of October, the moms came armed with boo-tiful goodies and spooky treasures (and some wine for themselves) to a College Care Package Party at Debbie Robbins’ home. Debbie’s son Mitchell, an Emery 2019 grad, is now at Lewis & Clark and her daughter Paige is at The University of Texas at Austin after graduating from Bellaire in 2017. The care package mission was a success with about 30 minutes packing the boxes and over three hours of sipping, nibbling and giggling. The moms look forward to gathering again to create care packages around final exam season.
Episcopal High School has a tradition of sending delicious care packages. Dean of Alumni, Dr. John Colello, shared that every fall, EHS mails the school cafeteria’s world-famous homemade chocolate chip cookies to each of Episcopal’s newest college freshmen. This year, they will send 182 dozen cookies to the 2019 alumni. Dr. Colello passes around cards for teachers and friends to sign to be included in the boxes. Just to be safe, he always orders a few extra dozen cookies in case some volunteer parents get too tempted by the tantalizing aroma of the cookies!
This fall will mark the third year that the National Charity League Post Oak Sustainer Group will assemble finals survival packages for the members who graduated the prior spring.
Kim McAuliffe, Immediate Past President of the Post Oak Chapter of the National Charity League, explained, “The whole chapter is invited to recognize the college freshman girls in their new journey. Current middle and high school members write inspiring notes and donate gift cards. The sustainer moms decorate and fill the boxes and add fun items like Smarties candy to help remind everyone of ‘How Smart They Are’ and bubble wrap to pop for stress relief. We always hear back from the girls (and their roommates) that the care packages made them feel special during the stress of finals.”
This year, the NCL college moms added a “Fill a Fall Box” event to make care packages for their own daughters. Moms brought different items to share. Kim was excited to mail the treats to her daughters, Skylar, who's now at Carnegie Mellon and was a 2018 Bellaire grad, and Meagan, a Texas A&M student and 2017 Bellaire grad.
Twice a year, the West University Methodist Youth Group sends out around 30 care packages to their college students. Shelby Smolen, Director of Youth Ministries, shared, “This year we will be sending packages to Illinois, Mississippi, Kentucky, Arkansas, Georgia, California, Alabama, North Carolina and, of course, Texas. We fill them with all sorts of goodies - from candy, to healthy snacks, Post-it notes, and stress relief balls. Our youth group makes them during Sunday school. They sign cards with special messages to go in each college student’s package, to remind them that they are loved and prayed for back home.”
The Lawter family dropped off Jack, a Carnegie 2019 grad at Duke University in August. Mom Dianne happily reports that Jack is loving college including having a roommate from New Zealand. Diane shared tips that have helped with the transition. “One thing we do with Jack to help us feel less far away is FaceTime every Saturday. It really helps to see him and talk about his week. I think he enjoys it as well. Many times, he talks to us while he is doing something else like his laundry or eating breakfast. One time he kept talking to us as he walked on campus to grab some lunch. On the way he saw some of his friends and he introduced us via FaceTime.”
Diane continued, “I have not done a care package yet but I do send things he needs via Amazon. It is very simple and he gets things quickly. Students can have a six-month free Amazon Prime account and after that it is half price. It definitely comes in handy when he needs a screwdriver or laundry detergent! I am planning to have cookies delivered to him from a local bakery when he starts studying for finals.”
2019 college freshmen and families, congrats on making it halfway through your first fall semester. Enjoy those phone calls, FaceTime calls and care packages. Maybe if you’re really lucky, your package will have a Buzz magazine in it!
Ideas for Care Packages, as suggested by Buzz-area parents, include:
- Non-perishable snacks or treats, such as nuts, microwave popcorn, candy or gum, cookies, instant oatmeal packets, granola/protein bars, drink mixes or homemade treats
- Practical items such as hand sanitizer, vitamins or Airborne immunity boost tablets
- Fun, playful items such as scratch-off lottery tickets, Play-Doh, silly string, a slinky, playing cards
- Sentimental or meaningful gifts such as items that will remind the student of Houston or Texas, holiday/season decorations or photos of family and friends
- *Tip: US Postal flat-rate boxes are cost-effective.
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