Care Packages Keep Parents and Students Connected

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A mother-daughter owned care package company helps parents and students bridge the gap between parents and students living away from home for the first time. While both schools and students have gone high tech, old fashioned mail from home still provides the best connection between parents and kids.

As thousands of college students across the country prepare to enter the increasingly high tech world of college life, it's likely that one of the most important items they receive will not be high tech at all - mail from home.

In a world of laptop computers, e-mail and MTV, care packages from home are among the most cherished items a student can receive; with the digital age in full swing, parents can send a care package with only the click of a mouse.

In January of 2000, Shannon Rubio, a Houston area stay at home mom to 3 boys opened an online care package store. When went online, there was little competition. Today, there are dozens of companies offering college care packages but remains both a leader and trend setter in the field of mail from home.

"Parents have a wide variety of needs when it comes to college care packages," says Rubio. "We have parents with no budget and who can send packages to their student and a few dorm mates as well, and we have parents who are on tight budgets but still want to send something. We have parents who want to send strictly health foods and parents who want to send boxes of homemade cookies. Because of our supplier list, we are able to send both types of gifts and everything in between."

Care packages of the past might have included cookies from mom and a note. Today, college care packages can include the cookies, books, flowers, laundry supplies, pre-paid phone cards, and a whole assortment of items. In addition, TheSmileBox has themed packages so parents can send students gifts for birthdays, final exams and even 'get well packages' for students needing some chicken soup from home.

Over the past 5 years, TheSmileBox has sent over 15,000 care packages and now has a product line that includes flowers, cakes, and balloons. The company also is familiar with college mail procedures and SmileBox staff is able to help parents find the correct postal address and shipping methods to get gifts to students quickly. In addition, all care packages come with a gift message from the sender (usually mom.) Rubio notes, "Some moms try to keep it low key with a simple 'study hard, we love you.' And others go all out with the gift message."

Regardless of the type of gift sent or the parental budget, gifts from home are important reminders to college students that 'out of sight' does not always mean 'out of mind'. is an online care package company started in 2000 by Shannon Rubio and her mother, MariVonne Essex. The company sells goody boxes that arrive in bright yellow 'SmileBoxes' and is one of the largest care package-gift companies online. is a member of the Greater Houston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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Shannon Rubio