These days, it seems few things are hurtling into obsolescence with as much contradiction and nostalgia as the humble mail service. On one hand, letters and snail mail are being monumentally overshadowed by electronic mediums. On the other, Amazon is promising to ship you anything you’d ever need right to your door with increasing immediacy.
But a package from Amazon doesn’t have nearly the sentimental value of another type of mail many college students are familiar with: care packages.
Whether coming from family or from a local business here in Oberlin, the benefits of care packages in treating the common college ailments of homesickness and stress are almost immeasurable.
“I think the very best care packages are the ones with random goodies that represent an inside joke,” says third-year Maria Bertrand, a psychology major and Hispanic studies minor with an education studies concentration. “My mom often sends me little cards with different article clippings that she thinks I'll like, and my dad has repeatedly sent me honeycrisp apples, and he once sent me odds and ends he had found around the house, like a pin cushion shaped like a carrot.”
As many a hungry student can attest, free food is not a thing to be underrated.
"Around finals I get really stressed out and homesick so my mom likes to send me something to help with both,” says second-year Melissa Karp, a comparative literature and East Asian studies double major and French minor. “It usually ends up being a giant tub of this special popcorn from Chicago. The size is supposed to be incentive for me to leave my study zone and share it with my friends, but I usually end up using it as an excuse to study longer without interruptions since I now have a food source to sustain me.”
When tasty sources of fuel for studying mix with the knowledge of knowing someone is thinking about you, it’s hard to go wrong.
Understanding this fact, local businesses and Oberlin’s Campus Dining Services (CDS) have responded to demand by offering for purchase care packages of baked goods that may not survive a flight from, say, California to Ohio.
The most popular options from CDS’ “thinking of you” packages are the birthday option—which includes an 8-inch layer cake in a variety of flavors—and the get well soon option, complete with all the necessities of wellness, from tea to lozenges.
The Blue Rooster Bakehouse, located in downtown Oberlin, makes sure every sweet tooth can be satisfied with their care package options, offering vegan and gluten-free options among their selection of brownies, cookies, and cupcakes. Gift-givers can also select a breakfast box option with muffins, sticky rolls, and more.
Second-year Sierra Maniates-Selvin stresses the importance of the latter option. “I think care packages should have breakfast food because I’m always short on breakfast food. Sometimes my mom sends me muffins and that’s swell.”
As these students and others can attest, care packages check off all the boxes a person could want from a personalized package: they’re practical, individualized, full of the well-wishes from loved ones, and, of course, delicious.
“The name says it all! They show that someone cares about you, and to me, that is all one can ask for in life,” says Bertrand.