Since March, UNC Chapel Hill sophomore Madelyn Schmidt has been back home in Asheville, where she spends much of her time attending online lectures. But the 20-year-old psychology major has also been finding ways to give back to the community.
“I’ve worked in homeless shelters since I was a young teenager,” Schmidt explains. “But once COVID hit, I wasn’t actually able to go and volunteer anymore.”
Undeterred, Schmidt launched the You Got This bags initiative in August. Slim Jims, medical masks, crackers, wet wipes and socks are among the items she includes in the 40 care packages she delivers each week for distribution through 12 Baskets Cafe, a local nonprofit that currently serves free to-go meals outside its 610 Haywood Road location on Tuesdays and Fridays, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
“I have a crazy Excel spreadsheet with all of my costs from every single store,” she says.
And while Schmidt manages most of the project on her own, she emphasizes that community support sustains her efforts. To date, over $1,000 has come in through her online fundraising efforts to support the program.
“People have been superenthusiastic and supergenerous,” she says.
The project, continues Schmidt, is a way to contribute to the greater good while also creating some consistency and a sense of purpose in her own life during these otherwise unpredictable times.
“’No one can do everything, but everyone can do something,’” she says, quoting Christian author Max Lucado. “Pick that one thing you really want to help fix and work hard on doing just that.”
This article is part of COVID Conversations, a series of short features based on interviews with members of our community during the coronavirus pandemic in Western North Carolina. If you or someone you know has a unique story you think should be featured in a future issue of Xpress, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.