By Eva Monhaut
The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak has put a strain on frontline workers, from those working in the overwhelmed hospitals, to those at our local grocery stores working to ensure everyone has the resources they need in these troubling times. The IU South Bend Honors Program wants to show their appreciation to all of our frontline workers by offering students a unique opportunity to write letters of thanks to frontline workers from Sept. 7until the 28th.
Honor’s Program director, Dr. Neovi Karakatsanis, urges students to participate in the service project.
“It is the perfect way for students to stay engaged in the community while continuing to practice social distancing,” Karakatsanis said.
Furthermore, she looks forward to a series of future projects this semester and into the next that continue to give back to the community while keeping everyone healthy.
In fact, one of Karakatsanis’ friends, Anna Rupert, has a brother-in-law working in the armed forces, an aspect of frontline workers often overlooked during the pandemic. Rupert speaks about the role her brother-in-law has had as a frontline worker during the pandemic.
“My brother-in-law, Senior airmen LePla, is currently deployed in the Middle East. I was so excited to participate in this service project so I could let him know how much I appreciate all of his hard work and sacrifice. It is not very often that they receive mail or any type of care package while they are deployed. It broke my heart to hear him tell his wife how jealous the other airmen were when he received care packages and letters from back home and they did not. I knew in that moment I wanted to help. I thought sending letters would allow me to show how much I appreciate what they are doing for our country,” Rupert said.
While all frontline workers are struggling through harsh conditions, those serving in our nation’s military suffer through soaring temperatures up to 130 degrees while also having to wear masks.
“All of the men and women serving our country right now are truly heroes and it is my hope that they know that,” expressed Rupert.
Students interested in participating in the project should RSVP via Titan Atlas. The service project is hosted by the Honors Program but is open to all IU South Bend students, not just Honors Students. Students will be directed to a Google Spreadsheet where they can locate a list of organizations where they can send their letters. These organizations were chosen by a small group of Honors officers who called to local organizations who may be interested in receiving letters.
After students have chosen where they would like to address their letter, they can stop by the Honors Lounge to pick up stationary. Students can then feel free to write and decorate their letters as they see fit.
When finished students will be asked to drop their letters back off in the Honors Lounge located in the Admin Building. There will be a box labeled “THANK YOU LETTERS DROP OFF” on the filing cabinet in the Honors Lounge.
Student’s writing to more than one location should group their letters together based on the locations and all students should add their name and the location the letters will be sent to on the outside of the return bags.
In addition to giving back and showing thanks to our frontline workers, honors students can receive service credit for their contribution which honors student and program intern, Paige Closson collaborates Karakatsanis’ belief in the importance of the project. “It encapsulates a sense of community and belonging. We are directly thanking the men and women who dedicate their lives to serving others, serving our community. Giving students the opportunity to say thank you creates a bond within our community and in our students,” said Closson.
In the fears and uncertainties of these times, it is the small things that can make a major difference in our community.
“I would thank these everyday heroes—both frontline workers and letter writers, alike—and I would remind all of us that every single one of us has it within us to be an everyday hero. In fact, even small acts like masking up and social distancing during this challenging time are acts of heroism. It doesn’t take a lot to make a difference,” concluded Karakatsanis.
For more information visit IUSB Honors Titan Atlas Page https://titanatlas.iusb.edu/event/6385555 or contact Honors Program Intern, Closson at firstname.lastname@example.org.