Operation Care Package Supports College Students

Julian Santiago (left) and Anthony Townsend, both alumni of Alvarez High School, are thrilled to receive a care package through the 300 Men organization.

Julian Santiago (left) and Anthony Townsend, both alumni of Alvarez High School, are thrilled to receive a care package through the 300 Men organization.

For those who are attending college, the arrival of a care package filled with supplies and favorite foods is a special gift to be savored and shared. But a care package means much more than its contents; it shows that someone is thinking about you, supporting you, and cares enough to brighten your day.

Richlieu Norris, a guidance counselor at Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School, and Brother Ray Smith, a counselor at Alvarez, both leaders in the 300 Men organization, are collecting items for care packages to be sent to students at URI, RIC and CCRI. Students in need of support have been identified and, while they include students from Providence, anyone in need who is enrolled at one of the state colleges is eligible to receive a care package.

“A lot of times, when students go to college, the view is that they’ve made it,” said Brother Ray, “but they still need our support.

“We are building community,” he added. “We are developing the gift of giving, building character. A community is coming together to build a care package for a stranger. They are sending a gift of support to someone they may never see.”

The average cost of a care package is about $50, but any donations are welcome. Items are being collected and can be dropped off at Alvarez High School (ask for Mr. Norris or Brother Ray). Items for the care package can include gift cards to local eateries, coffee shops or convenience stores; gas or phone cards; coupons; toiletries; non-perishable foods; school supplies; movie passes, etc.

So far, the 300 Men organization has received a strong response to Operation Care Package but hopes to see it grow. Putting together a care package can also be a project for community or school organizations such as Boy or Girl Scouts.

The packages are delivered personally to the recipients, according to Norris. “The students are very appreciative. They are grateful for somebody thinking about them. It’s important for them to know that someone supports them and that they have some backing.”

Both Norris and Smith hope the program “will grow fast and furious.” If anyone knows of a student who is in need of a care package, they are encouraged to call Norris of 300 Men.

“We hope to plant a seed in the hearts and minds of young men in terms of giving back,” said Smith. “We hope to reach kids from neighboring communities in addition to Providence. Our goal is that recipients will become givers, that we have established something that will have a life of its own long after we’re gone,” said Brother Ray.

300 Men was founded to serve men in Providence through role modeling, mentorship, scholarship, and coordinating opportunities for youth and family development. The organization aims to campaign against violence and inequality and protect communities through coordinated efforts and support.

Norris, who serves as vice president of 300 Men, is the founder of the Gentlemen’s Club at Gilbert Stuart Middle School and is establishing a similar group at Alvarez.  The Gentlemen’s Club is a leadership group for young men that focuses on developing strong academic skills and character.

Care packages can be earmarked for students from a particular high school or to a specific student. If you have any questions about a donation, contact Mr. Norris at Alvarez High School.