Local churches team up, provide isolation care packages
Wearing a mask and staying six feet apart has become the new norm in these times of COVID-19. In its best efforts, Charleston Southern University continues to maintain safe practices in avoiding the virus by implementing certain protocols, such as the LiveSafe app, limiting gatherings, and having students wipe down their desks.
Any time a resident student finds themselves in quarantine or isolation, the university seeks ways to support them, such as delivering food and special packages. Last fall, staff members partnered with local churches to provide care and connection with students who tested positive for COVID.
CSU designated isolation rooms for those who intended to stay on campus while recovering. The required 14-day quarantine period would be brutal for anyone to endure, which is why Campus Ministries sought to support students in seclusion.
Jon Davis, associate vice president for spiritual life, played a major role in the birth of what he calls “Quarantine Kids.”
“The first thing we did in the Office of Spiritual Life was offer Zoom sessions on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays during lunchtime,” Davis said. “So if they wanted to talk or needed prayer, they would have someone.”
But it wasn’t enough. The school wanted to do more for these students. They knew those in isolation were suffering from not only the virus, but from the lack of student life and social contact as well.
“We [myself and the people in Student Life and Housing] all had a meeting with President Dondi Costin via Zoom and asked, ‘What can we do?’” Davis said. “We came up with an idea about care packages that let [students] know [they] are loved. That idea was Quarantine Kids.” The idea began with a small bag full of prayer cards for the students in quarantine, but the Church Connection Team ramped up the treats. Led by Pastor Randy Jackson of Northwood Baptist, local churches close to CSU were inspired by the idea and assembled bags of snacks, candy, popcorn, and a list of suggested activities to complete during quarantine. Davis and the Spiritual Life team would pick up these bags from the churches on Mondays and Fridays, delivering the goodies handsfree to the students in isolation.
“The church would leave notes while the team and I encouraged students to text or Zoom with us if they needed anything,” Davis said.
Additional churches found out about CSU’s contributions and wanted to participate. Crossroads, Summerville Baptist, Journey, Mount Moriah, Awaken, Summit, and Northwood Church gathered their members to donate their time and compassion for isolated students. According to Davis, the South Carolina Baptist Convention even donated a large sum of money to help transform the idea. What started as a seed grew into a variety of churches coming together to help students feel loved. Today, the local churches have helped CSU distribute about 140 care packages.
The first few weeks of the spring semester have seen new cases of students testing positive. Davis and his team plan on giving out more packages next week, continuing the handsfree approach to maintain the school’s safe practices against the virus.
By placing the care packages outside of students’ doors, a masked Davis steps back six feet after giving their door a knock. On behalf of the churches and the Spiritual Life team, Davis tells those who feel healthy enough to open the door that each of them are loved and cared for.
“The biggest thing I saw was that you could literally see them light up after being starved from community,” Davis said. “You know, they don’t feel well or they’re in quarantine, and they feel stuck. We want to help them feel a little less stuck.” CSU encourages safe practices to avoid COVID-19 from the start, but Campus Ministries and local churches are there to emotionally support those who come in contact with the virus. CSU remains committed to its practice of marching “together forward but six feet apart.”
Emma Slaven is a senior English writing major and an intern for Marketing & Communication.