Honors clubs unite to create COVID care packages
By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau
When social-distancing practices were put in place to help combat the pandemic, the question left on Honors College students’ minds was, “How can we safely continue to serve our community?”
Although multiple service opportunities had to be postponed or canceled, students were determined to give back in any way they could. And when they began brainstorming possible service projects in which they could safely participate, they learned that serving their community doesn’t always require leaving campus.
Thus, COVID care packages were born. Members of the Honors VOICES Club and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) worked together to create two kinds of packages: One set went to students in isolation after testing positive for the virus, and the other was for health care providers who have been working diligently to reduce the spread of COVID on campus.
“We have an incredible team of student leaders for (Honors) VOICES and NSCS and we were just incredibly impressed and proud of them for how they were able to pull it off,” said Anna Cofrancesco, Program Manager for the Honors College. “They pulled it off with poise, grace, perseverance and great.”
The students came together to create the care packages at two socially distanced events. Each package for students in isolation consisted of games and activities for them to do during their recovery at the GCU Hotel as well as a few treats and a handwritten note letting them know that their fellow Lopes are thinking about them and praying for their swift recovery. Packages for the staff of the Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic consisted of more self-care items and a card to thank them for all their hard work.
The events, which took place outdoors on one of the sports fields on campus, implemented as many safety measures as possible to ensure that the students and the packages were safe.
Honors Program Manager Cathleen Daly noted that the collaboration between the two Honors organizations was organized by the students.
“They had been thinking about this for a while, so when they got together and brainstormed, they wanted to solve the question, ‘How do we serve our campus and how do we meet the immediate needs that are happening around us?’” Daly said. “It’s very easy for everyone to be discouraged because they can’t go out to events, travel or volunteer like they normally would right now, so I was very proud with what they came up with together.”
Students listened to music and created a fun environment while also working for a good cause.
Sophomore Emma Blair, President of Honors VOICES, said the event came out better than they had initially imagined.
“I’m so thankful that we were able to put on an event,” she said. “We were able to build a community, not just among freshmen, but with upperclassman as well, in a time of isolation while still abiding by COVID guidelines.”
Approximately 60-80 students participated in the assembly line-style events to create about 140 care packages.
“It’s awesome on both sides to really make an impact on both the students that are in quarantine and with the health care workers,” NSCS President Amara Murray-Bell said. “Specifically, with the health care workers, we figured out that it was a small team working so hard for our student population, so it was amazing to be able to provide that appreciation to them and they were so grateful.”
Giving back to the community is such a large part of what the Honors College student leaders do, so taking the initiative to overcome the COVID obstacles was an added lesson in what being a leader entails.
“One of the best parts of the Honors College at GCU is how they want to develop those entire individuals,” Blair said. “They don’t just look at us as students, they truly look at us as leaders. Leaders have the academic side, which is part of the reason why we’re in the Honors College, but we also have good leaders who know how to partner with communities and serve other people well.”
And that is exactly what the Honors College staff looks to teach students.
“We were very pleasantly surprised with what Emma and her board came up with,” Associate Dean Dr. Breanna Naegeli said. “They immediately jumped into action and thought so far outside of the box, and it was really pleasant. We’re really proud of the work that they did.”
Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected].