Sun Devils care about the well-being of their communities, and those apples fell from some pretty caring trees. More than 200 members of a Facebook group called ASU Moms proved that last weekend when they gathered to put together hundreds of care packages for the Arizona State University students who are isolating in their residence halls after a positive COVID-19 test.
Sun Devil Sue Rigler, who graduated in 1988 with a degree in microbiology and is the parent of a current sophomore, reached out to the social media group, which is known for being a great source of support to Sun Devil families, to ask if they’d be willing to help collect and package supplies for students who might be feeling ill, bored or stir-crazy having to spend the recommended 10 days isolating to prevent spreading COVID-19 after testing positive.
Rigler, who lives in Scottsdale, knew firsthand what it was like for families to go through the fear and isolation of a diagnosis. She said COVID-19 has made rolling with the punches and pivoting essential.
“My daughter also had COVID, and she was quarantined in her room,” Rigler said. She was able to work with her daughter’s roommates to deliver food and supplies. “Not everybody is that close so they can do that for these kids.”
Remembering what it was like to move to ASU from Iowa, Rigler said she knew she wanted to do something for the students who might not feel connected in their first semester at ASU.
“When I was at ASU I didn’t know anybody,” she said. Rigler thought about if she had had to quarantine, she would have had a hard time. “I was already isolated and didn’t know anybody. I felt bad. I thought, we have to do something for these kids.”
Rigler had the idea that the ASU Moms group, which has more than 5,700 members, could help care for students who might not have help close at hand. And she was blown away at how quickly the community rallied around the cause.
After she proposed the plan to the group, the feedback was swift. The notifications lit up her phone over and over.
“All these responses came back immediately,” Rigler said.
Donations and offers to help poured in. More than 200 parents stepped up to provide Gatorade, microwaveable meals, soap and shampoo, snacks, homemade activity books, jump ropes for an in-room exercise option, a thermometer and a handwritten note of support, signed “with love from ASU Moms.” ASU Family provided 300 branded tote bags to support the project.
One of the ASU Moms who answered the call to action was Kristin Junod, who earned a degree in industrial engineering from ASU and who is a parent to two current Sun Devils. Junod said she was inspired to get involved because the ASU Moms Facebook group has been so helpful and positive.
“(These moms) are willing to help out total strangers because we all have one goal: our kids’ success at ASU,” she said.
Junod worked with Rigler and other parents to put together a project plan to organize the packages with a short turnaround time, set up an Amazon wishlist and coordinate donations.
“Within a few days, the moms ordered everything off my list, and Amazon delivered hundreds of boxes to my house,” she said. “It was inspirational to have so many people donate items and show up to put together the bags. This project was possible because of the kindness of hundreds of ASU moms and dads!”
Rigler and Junod said the packing event at State 48 Lager House in Scottsdale on Oct. 10 — which was outdoors, required face coverings and set up for social distancing — went very smoothly and was a spirited way for the group to gather for a good cause.
“It makes me hopeful that both a mom and a student in a horrible situation will feel that someone cares,” Junod said.
After packing, the ASU Moms delivered the goods to ASU staff, who Rigler had coordinated with since she thought of the idea. ASU Family Programs Director Kellyn Johnson said that 300 packages were delivered to campus Oct. 12. The ASU Care team, which is providing support and amenities to students in isolation, will begin distributing the bags this week.
“The ASU moms care package initiative demonstrates the impact Sun Devil families can have in supporting our campus, and ASU Family is excited to be collaborating with these incredible parents,” Johnson said.
“The care packages are certain to bring a smile to our Sun Devils in isolation due to COVID-19. The dean of students, residence life and dining services are pleased to help deliver this small dose of ‘home.’ Through their generosity, dedication and support for all students, these families exemplify our community of care and show the strength of our ASU family.”
Johnson said each student who is in isolation can opt for ongoing support from the university through the ASU Care and Engager teams, staff from across the university who were convened in fall 2020 to provide resources and support to students in isolation on campus. The Care team includes professional and student staff who prepare rooms for student arrival, assist with mail and package deliveries, and provide assistance for any student supports needed. They work closely with Residence Life, University Dining and the Engager team, another cross-departmental group of professional staff led by Student Advocacy and Assistance in the Dean of Students Office. The Engagers provide ongoing support to students in isolation, regularly checking in to ensure the students’ needs are met, connecting the students to campus resources and answering any questions they may have.
Though the first batch of care packages are now in the hands of Sun Devils, the ASU Moms aren’t done. Rigler said thanks to a surplus of donations, the group was also able to donate more than $2,000 to the ASU Student Crisis Fund. Their goal, overall, is to just to remind students that the ASU community cares.
“We just want to put a smile on their faces,” Rigler said.
Throughout the process, deeper connections were made not just between parents and students but among the parent volunteers as well. Rigler, who moved to Scottsdale from California in February, said the ASU Moms group and this project also gave her a ray of sunshine after moving to a new area right before a pandemic.
“I feel like I have some instant friends now,” she said.
Johnson said families interested in getting involved can visit family.asu.edu to explore opportunities or reach out to email@example.com. ASU Family provides all Sun Devil families with opportunities to explore their interests and engage with campus programs that are meaningful to them.
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