LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Students enrolled with the Department of Art and Design at UA-Little Rock should have received a surprise package in the mail filled with school supplies.

“This is the first time that we’ve done this and so in our case, we look at this as being a first step in how we communicate with the students,” explains Tom Clifton, chair and professor for the department of Art and Design at UALR.

The department wanted to welcome new and returning students to campus with a kind gesture for the new semester.

There is no official name for the kits, however, “Care Kits” is a term being used to reference the packages.

Each “Care Kit” contained an assortment of supplies, such as, drawing pencils, art sacks, and face masks (now mandatory in campus buildings).

Professors and staff with the Department of Art and Design put together and shipped the items to the roughly 160 students enrolled in their courses.

Most notably, personalized cards were included that had signatures from every professor within the department.

Clifton says the vision behind it was to provide a few basic resources while also showing students they care.

“You know it’s a small symbol of kindness but it’s really something that we should be doing – everybody should be doing,” Clifton says.

Classes are set to begin Aug. 24, however, students will have to navigate some recent changes implemented by campus amid the pandemic. The school will have a new hybrid learning approach that includes both collaborative in-person workshop courses along with the interactive online curriculum.

This is the first time the department has have ever done anything like for their students, says Clifton. He plans to continue this gesture for future students and believes they might have started a new school tradition.

“I think the silver lining with this bag is the recognition that we are reaching out to our students and we recognize them as people with lives,” he says. “We’re trying to change their lives and we’re trying to make their lives better.”

Clifton is excited to see everyone on campus come next week and hear student’s responses to getting the kits.

“One student sent us an email and was so grateful,” he says. “It truly is the thought that counts.”