Six young people receive college care packages from me. I try to send them out three times a semester...nothing cosmic in them, but the recipients appreciate them.
In a previous post, a reader asked what I put in the packages. Pretty much anything that fits in a small, flat-rate USPS box, including little travel-size toiletries, chapstick, hand lotion, pens, post-it pads, highlighters, binder clips, hot chocolate packets, candy, Starbucks gift cards, Altoids, Tic-Tacs, Mentos, tea bags, gum, fuzzy socks, whatever.
Of course Valentine's Day gives the perfect excuse to send something, and to include this simple card!
Oh, this simple design makes my heart go pitter patter! The heart dies are from Hero Arts Infinity Dies. and the script is an old Hero Arts wood-mounted stamp. Although I rarely mass-produce, I made six of these, using hot pink hearts on some because I ran out of red heart gems.
And now I want to offer up a public service announcement. Several of the young people who receive my packages suffer from depression and anxiety...to levels requiring medication and professional counseling--which they don't all receive. One is a male ballet dancer who struggled last semester with mono. Another lost her mother last year.
Our young people are being crushed under the weight of stress, and it's affecting them terribly. I see my students fail out of college because they become homeless, or have never learned how to focus on doing work, or have small children and little support from family, or have toxic people around them pulling them down.
Any time you can reach out to support a young person, please take the opportunity. One adult reaching out in support can make a huge different, to the point of saving lives. Suicide among youth is on the rise, and this is especially true for our LGBTQ youth. I was a suicidal young person, and I know first-hand that compassionate adults make a world of difference!
We "older folk" have an opportunity to be leaders here. Reach out. Buy a young person a cup of coffee. Ask how they're "really" doing. Listen. Provide unconditional positive regard. Send a card. Include a $20 occasionally. Build a relationship. Invest in them.
And don't believe the crap being shoveled that young people are all a bunch of entitled brats. There are no more brats now than in the past. Every generation for several thousand years has bemoaned the loss of morals, work ethic, responsibility, and "values" in the younger generation. It's no more true now than it was in ancient Greece. Don't use that as an excuse for apathy. I beg you.
Small moves won't fix big problems, but they just might strengthen and encourage young people to overcome their bigger problems. They need to know how powerful they can be! The human spirit is amazing, but it needs a little encouragement and help every now and then to grow resilient and succeed. And if you're feeling stressed like so many young people these days, know that reaching out to help others helps you, too!
If you're not sure how to help and want to, talk to your pastor about participating in (or starting) a college outreach ministry. If you live near a college, ask about "adoption" programs for students far from home or volunteer on campus as part of ministry or in campus outreach organizations. Ask about other volunteer opportunities in your community. Most have some sort of clearinghouse or central volunteer resource. Or get a few addresses and send them care packages.
If you feel called to help, act. Don't feel like you have to do something huge for it to matter. Just do something that feels right.
Mercy, grace, peace, and love,