Nothing brightens a student’s day like a care package from home. What to put inside?

You might be surprised.

When we asked some of the women of Woldt Hall for ideas, they suggested more than just junk food.

Follow their tips for the best care package ever:

  • Coloring books and crayons.
    “College is a time when I really miss my family, and one way to feel connected to my family is to feel connected to my childhood,” says Grayling senior Melissa Obrinske.
    Coloring does that, she says — plus it’s a great stress reducer.
  • A few dollars. “I have family members who will send me just a dollar or two or three, and it helps a lot,” Obrinske says. “They’ll say, ‘Oh, it isn’t much,’ but it’s really handy to have just a few extra dollars, to chip in to a pancake breakfast or to give to a fundraiser.”
  • Tea bags, coffee, hot chocolate packets. All good to warm up with after a frosty trek across campus.
  • Play-doh. “My roommate was really excited to find Play-doh in her box from home,” Obrinske says. “Again, it’s a connection to childhood. And it’s relaxing to work with your hands.”
  • Letters. “Even if we don’t write back, it’s so good to get a letter from home,” Obrinske says. “And the crudely drawn pictures I get from my younger siblings — those are my favorite.”
  • “Little dollar store toys,” suggests Anna Bruce, a Fort Mitchell, Ky., sophomore. “Especially those little stress reliever balls.”
  • “Fruit,” Bruce says. “Living in the dorms, you eat a lot of popcorn and Easy Mac. “Fruit is great because it’s healthy and expensive.”
  • “Chocolate is the first thing,” says Emilie Cline, a sophomore from New Baltimore. “Who doesn’t love chocolate?”
  • “Junk food,” Obrinske says. “The salad bar is great, but sometimes you just need a big ol’ bag of gummy bears.”
  • Hand warmers. “I get cold easily,” Obrinske says. “I love to stick those in my gloves when I’m walking to my 8 a.m. class.”
  • “Highlighters and pencils, especially if it’s around finals week,” Bruce says.
    “I always lose pencils,” Cline adds, “so I would appreciate those.”​
  • “A handwritten note or card,” Cline says. “It’s nice to hear from your family. My mom sent me a package for finals week, with a note that wished me luck, and she said she couldn’t wait to see me in a few days.”
  • “Crosswords or Sudoku,” Cline suggests. “They’re a good distraction.”
  • “Gift cards,” Cline says. “Maybe an iTunes card or one for a store, so we can go on a shopping break.”

When to send a care package?

A month into the semester is good, Obrinske says, when most students haven’t been home in a while.

And the week before finals week.

“That’s when all the big projects are due, so it’s stressful,” she says. “You’re staying up late trying to get everything done, and you could really use some late-night junk food.”

Everybody can use a dose of warmth from home in mid-February. Or, actually, any time.

“Being surprised, just at random, is fun,” Cline says.

“Just send them!”