Cookies made with care

Gwen+Weber+and+Beatrice+DeGraw+after+a+successful+round+of+baking

Gwen Weber and Beatrice DeGraw after a successful round of baking

Nicole Sterba, Life & Culture Editor

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Linfield University students have been stressed this year—for a variety of reasons. Exams, essays, and presentations galore, not to mention the pandemic, have most university students feeling isolated and anxious. Normally, college students need a little extra care, but right now, it’s hard to feel like a part of a community.

COVID-19 restrictions from the county and on the Linfield campus have made life difficult for the student population. Some members of the Linfield community have recognized these struggles and thought of creative ways to help students know that someone cares about them.

Rachel Norman, Assistant Professor and Director of Writing in the English department, pulled together a few of her students who work at the Linfield Writing Center to help create care packages for students in need of a little TLC. 

She thought some homemade cookies, bottles of hand sanitizer, and little notes of encouragement would be the best medicine for a stressed college student during a pandemic. Professor Norman expected at most 50 people would be interested in getting sent a care package, but after sending out only a single email, she soon had almost 300 responses. One hundred within the first 10 minutes.

“I was really struck by the level of anxiety from the students, and the stress and the sadness,” Norman said. “It seems like students are having a very difficult time right now, and I’m seeing this in classes too.” 

She had to cut the sign-ups off before she had more orders than she could accommodate. “I was caught very off guard. I felt terrible having to close the submission portal. I would love to be able to deliver cookies to everybody,” Norman said. She decided that big care packages would be too much to handle for such a large order, so she made the decision to do smaller ones, and send them through Linfield’s mail service for maximum safety precautions.

“Shout out to the mail service’s role in all of this, when I called them it caught them off guard too,” Norman said. The mailroom was closed due to the campus-wide shutdown, but they offered to help Professor Norman because of the circumstances. 

Just a few out of the hundreds of brown butter chocolate chip cookies being sent to students

Juniors and roommates, Beatrice DeGraw and Gwen Weber volunteered to help tackle the high demand for care packages. DeGraw made over 250 cookies, from scratch, in the span of two days. 

Before the packages could be delivered to the mailroom though, it took quite a bit of time to assemble them all. “I probably spent about 25 hours doing the baking, packaging, and buying altogether,” DeGraw said. DeGraw baked for almost two days straight—while attending her Zoom classes, in place of sleeping, whenever she had the chance.

“Neither of us ever want to eat anything sweet ever again,” Weber said. “Cookies took over our apartment.” 

Like Professor Norman, the two roommates assumed that they would only get a few responses to the email that was sent to the students of Linfield. “I only thought I was going to make 150, but we ended up getting over 250 responses to the survey, so I needed to get way more,” DeGraw said. The cookies were brown butter chocolate chip with flakey sea salt on top. “I wanted something fairly simple, with chocolate chip you can never go wrong, and brown butter adds a level of flavor.”

“The students were so full of gratitude that it was almost heartbreaking,” Norman said about the project’s result. Sometimes, all we need is a homemade cookie.