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Mom’s College Care Packages Replaced By Online Orders

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In the decade Sarah Tetley has worked with college students, she’s seen a change in care packages sent from home.

The box of homemade goodies “is something of a lost art,” says Tetley, director of the First Year Experience program at Webster University in St. Louis. “And it’s sad, because there’s nothing like seeing a student get excited about a package from home.”

The change is partly because parents are more in touch with kids, thanks to cellphones, than they used to be: “They don’t send as many care packages because they just talked to them,” Tetley said.

But it’s also due to a rise in commercially prepared options — not just generic gift baskets, but care packages designed specifically for college kids. And those parents who do pack their own care packages are apt to skip homemade brownies in favor of laundry pods, and get their “ty” via text.

THE PREMADE CARE PACKAGE

GourmetGiftBaskets.com “started to see a trend emerge a few years ago” with more orders sent to campus addresses, according to spokesman Chuck Casto. So the New Hampshire-based company introduced products like the “Exam Cram Care Package,” which includes microwave popcorn, cookies, candy, chips and pretzels. They’ve sold thousands of them, with sales up 75 percent this year over last.

Many colleges also offer in-house care package programs. At Connecticut College, parents can order the $35 “Birthday Bash,” with a cake or cupcakes, or “Health Nut,” with fresh fruit, rice cakes and yogurt smoothies, $25. The packages are made in a dining hall for same-day pickup.

Minimus.biz also offers a “College Student Care Package of the Month,” with themed packages like the Dorm Laundry Kit and the Dorm Medicine Chest.

Kelley Garland, a sophomore at Providence College in Rhode Island, saw a post about CoedSupply.com on her school’s Facebook page, asked her mom to sign her up, and says she loves “having that little surprise at the beginning of every month.”

FROM HOME, WITH LOVE: CLIPPINGS, COOKIES AND CONDOMS

Parents who do send care packages say socks, laundry pods (premeasured detergent packs) and cookies are staples. But they also say it’s not so much about sending necessities as it is a message of love, from home.

“There’s no way I can send him a copy of ‘I’ll Love You Forever,’ even though that is what I feel like reading right now,” joked Jill Troderman of Soquel, Calif., referring to the classic children’s book about parental devotion.

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