UNO crafts care packages for students ahead of finals during pandemic

Published: Apr. 25, 2020 at 1:01 PM CDT
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The University of Nebraska at Omaha isn't letting their students forget they are there for them during this difficult time of distance learning as they head into finals.

Bill Pickett’s garage doesn't normally look like a version of Santa Claus' workshop.

But with the UNO campus closed to students ahead of their finals next week -- the director of the spirit and tradition office knew he had to do something.

“You know, we're just trying to keep the Mavs in good spirits. Making sure that while they're in quarantine, they're studying and taking care of themselves, good wellness and keeping their spirits up,” Pickett said.

So the idea for the Durango care packages and the reason for his garage transformation was born.

The virtual sign-up for the care packages was up for three days -- Pickett was expecting 200 or 300 students to sign-up.

“We actually got 1,100,” he said with a laugh.

Not something he was expecting -- but a challenge he would conquer with the help of eager students.

“It feels nice, I guess, to give back to campus even when we can’t physically be on it because UNO is a really tight knit community. So it's really nice to be able to help out even when things aren't normal anymore,” said Ashley Turner, a junior with Maverick Productions.

The care packages are filled with hand and phone sanitizer, crossword puzzles, school supplies.

“Lots of candy,” Pickett said.

And tips for how students can manage stress during this time of change and uncertainty.

“So giving them some basic tips to help them balance stress with finals and being online and being in quarantine, hopefully this will help students as well,” he said.

From what we can tell with the students coming for pick up today -- it seems to be working.

“I just saw the link that said they would give out care packages and they had cool questions asking how we're doing, what our favorite candy was, cool stuff like that. So I just thought it was cool that they were doing stuff like that for free for us,” said Sarah Woelfel, a masters program student at UNO.

If students can't come and pick up their care packages -- Pickett will deliver them or ship them.

Some packages are going as far as Puerto Rico.