Otterbein Students Helping Students through Quarantine

Posted Mar 02, 2021

By Madelyn Nelson ’23 

Otterbein students have been taking many precautions since returning to campus in the fall, but some students have experienced a quarantine or isolation period due to COVID-19 exposure or infection. The time separated from friends can be lonely and boring, so the CardinalCorps Leaders created the Cardinal Cares Crew to provide fun activity bags to students heading into a quarantine or isolation space.  

Cardinals Care 1

Melissa Gilbert, director of the Center for Community Engagement, oversees the CardinalCorps Leaders and the project.

“When hearing stories from peers and other CardinalCorps that have gone through quarantine, there was a moment of, ‘somebody I know went through this and it wasn’t easy,’” Gilbert said.  

Many of the CardinalCorps Leaders have experienced quarantine or isolation, so they know first-hand how lonely it can be. When launching the project, they reflected on their experiences and decided what a student in quarantine needs to feel connected to the rest of campus.  

That’s when the CardinalCorps Leaders decided to create the Cardinal Cares Kits to encourage fellow students facing quarantine, give them something to do, and remind them that someone cares about them.  

CardinalCorps President Gabby McGeorge was involved in the initial idea, deciding on the contents of the activity bags, and assembling the first round of kits.

Cardinals Care 2

“I talked to my residents in Mayne Hall that have been in quarantine and asked them what things they would have wanted,” McGeorge said.  

The bags include Legos, coloring books, and a Rubik’s Cube to help pass the time. Students are also writing “Letters of Learning,” in which the CardinalCorps Leaders share what they learned in class that week.

“The next time they make bags, there will be a personalized letter from a student,” Gilbert said. 

Aside from keeping their minds busy, the letters offer a way to keep quarantined students engaged with campus life.

“There is a real connection – the personalized note shows what they’re learning together in this time,” Gilbert added.  

Img 5969 1

“I just wanted to do something to let them know that their community didn’t forget about them. I hope they feel as though their peers care, and that they are missed while they are gone for a little bit,” McGeorge added. 

“When you witness such a deep sense of empathy for other people, it’s very moving. Watching them empathize with their peers and turning empathy into action is a formidable moment for our campus,” Gilbert said.  

“It always makes me feel good supporting other students, but this in particular made me feel even better because I know if I was ever in that situation there are Cardinals who care about me,” McGeorge said. 

Cardinals Care 3

Even when students are physically separated, they are connected by empathy. Otterbein students are not afraid to lend a helping hand to those in need.  

“They’re not going to stand by and watch things happen, they want to be engaged and helping all the time,” Gilbert said. 

These times are hard, but caring students and meaningful work offer a light at the end of the tunnel.