Southern Students Thank Health Center Personnel
Nearly 80 Southern students worked together to surprise Southern’s University Health Center (UHC) personnel with flower arrangements, handmade cards, and goodie bags this February. Junior chemistry major Jared Freeman, who is a resident assistant in Talge Hall and a Freshman Experience mentor, came up with the idea after hearing President David Smith explain that the UHC staff were working extra-long hours to keep the campus safe.
“I had just gotten out of quarantine at the time, and I saw how hard the health center employees were working for me,” Freeman said. “The highlight of my days in quarantine was when I got to interact with the nurse who checked on me every day. So, when I heard the president’s message, I wanted to do something special for them.”
Freeman began by talking to the students living on his hall, as well as his Freshman Experience mentees, about raising money to buy flowers for the UHC staff. His girlfriend, Emily Meadows, junior nursing major, is also a Freshman Experience mentor and rallied her mentees, too. They created goodie bags filled with chocolates, lotion, tea, and lip balm, along with handmade cards to go with the flowers.
Together, the students raised nearly $400 for the project. Freeman then called Blluum Floral and Event Design in Ooltewah to purchase the flower arrangements. Shop owner Christine Waldrop, ’92 and ’14, a Southern alum, parent of a current student, and member of the university’s Board of Trustees, was touched by Freeman’s kindness, and she donated additional flowers to the cause.
“I was blown away that a university student would want to do this,” Waldrop said. “I love seeing other people spreading kindness, especially in a time that is difficult for many people. What these students did was so personalized and intentional.”
Freeman, Meadows, and Waldrop, met at the University Health Center on Monday, February 15, to distribute the flowers and care packages.
The message included with each gift said: “We want to say thank you. Thank you for the long hours that you have put in. Thank you for keeping us safe. Thank you for allowing us to be on campus through the hard work that you do. The words ‘thank you’ do not even begin to express how much your dedication and commitment to our campus means to us. These flowers are just a small token of our appreciation. We hope you have a blessed week. – Students at SAU”
“I am so grateful for the gift and hope they all know how special they made me feel,” said UHC Receptionist Mari Oskins. “Sometimes it feels as though our work is done in vain. This has been a frustrating year for all of us, and it’s nice to know that some people understand why we are doing what needs to be done.”
“This experience has shown me that there are so many people who are helping on a daily basis who are not always appreciated,” Freeman said. “I encourage others to fill a need when they see it. Ultimately, we all want to help others, it just takes someone willing to initiate the first step.”