We wanted to share with you a really cool idea that Counselor Tonya has been doing for YEARS to reach out to the teens in her life. Each year, before the recently-graduated students in her sphere leave for college, Tonya creates signature college baskets for them to take with them. They are full of many practical items to start out their new college career, some fun add-ins, and of course, lots of love!
Tonya’s story goes way back to when she was a pregnant teen. She was determined not to be a statistic and remembers the struggle well. With God’s help, not only did she finish high school, but she graduated with a 4-year, full-ride scholarship to NC State. Fast forward a few years, and Tonya became a regular mentor to teenagers. She started 15 years ago mentoring pregnant teen moms, encouraging them to stay in school and not give up. Working with those teen moms is what sparked her to branch out to mentoring any teen, especially girls, with the goal of pregnancy prevention and the pursuit of purity.
About ten years ago, she met a group of teen girls who didn’t have anything for college, and thus the college baskets were born! Every year since, Tonya has created the baskets for teens she mentors, her teen clients, and the teens she teaches at church as a youth leader. It is her way of sowing into their future and encouraging them to stay the course, placing an emphasis on the importance of their education.
Each package is packed in a laundry basket and includes the following items:
Soap and body wash
Shampoo and conditioner
Towels and cloths that match their college colors
A cozy blanket to remind them of home
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Ramen Oodles of Noodles
Gift cards to Walmart and Target
Notebooks and pens
Razors and shaving cream
Sanitary napkins for the girls
Basic make-up items for the girls, like lip gloss
and a little bit of this and that! 🙂
Tonya also puts a signature item in the baskets with a special note. She puts a box of cookies in the girls’ baskets and a bag of Snickers in the boys’. These packages of sweets represent their sexual purity and the “gift” that is to be saved for their spouse. Tonya writes a personal note encouraging them not to give their gift away, but to save it as a special offering for their future husband or wife.
These college gift baskets are so meaningful to these teens, and Tonya received lots of questions on Facebook when she posted about them. We thought you might like the idea too, and could use it to encourage the soon-off-to-college teenagers in your life. Even if you don’t do this, take the time to write an encouraging note letting them know you’re behind them, support them, and are praying for them as they start this new leg of the journey God has for them. Leaving home for the first time is exciting, but can also be very scary. Kids who know they have a strong support network back home that is rooting and praying for them are much more likely to fight for their purity, grow in their faith, and stay the course.