College Care Packages: A Legacy of Long Distance Love

| 8/23/2013 4:03:00 PM

Did you ever receive a care package from a parent or relative while in college? I recall a box of goodies arriving shortly after settling into my freshman dorm room. The delight of receiving some of my favorite snacks from home helped with those pangs of homesickness that is part and parcel of our first true sojourn from our roots.

college move in
Photo By Jeremy Wilburn/Flickr

Interestingly, the first care package was the original unit of aid distributed by the humanitarian organization CARE (Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere). In 1945, CARE began a program to send aid to Europe, where starvation was a growing risk for large numbers of people in the wake of World War II. Americans were given the opportunity to send a CARE package for $10 to friends or relatives in Europe. Packages were guaranteed to arrive within four months. The first 20,000 packages reached France in May 1946. Over the course of the next two decades, 100 million more packages were delivered, initially in Europe and later in Asia and other parts of the developing world.

This impressive demonstration of generosity by thousands of Americans certainly contributed to our reputation as a caring society. I like that the “care package” has such a meaningful origin. The term, while a registered trademark of CARE, has become widely adopted as a generic term for a parcel of food or supplies sent for relief or comfort.

Across the country, young people are carrying boxes up stairwells and setting up their new abode where adventures, learning and growth are sure to happen. Tears are shed as we say goodbye and leave our incredible kids behind to begin or recommence the university life. It’s back to school time.

Comfort is the essential impetus for sending a college care package to your child. We are comforting ourselves for our own missing of them at the morning breakfast table and soothing our worries that they are eating properly now that they are away from home. But the comfort that our child experiences from the arrival of a care package—well that is hard to quantify. In my own experience some thirty years past, I still remember with great fondness receiving a care package that let me know I was being thought of!

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