Black Student Union at Nebraska handing out care bags

Published: Jun. 27, 2020 at 5:01 PM CDT
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Every week, care bags are given out across the city to people who need them. It started as a small project by the Black Student Union at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and has raised thousands of dollars to help the Black community.

Just after the university let out because of COVID-19, Ahmaud Arbery had been shot, then Breonna Taylor, and then George Floyd died; his final moments caught on camera. The Black Student Union was feeling anxious to make some kind of change.

"We had a lot of anxiety, a lot of unease," said Batool Ibrahim. "We were mourning with our communities and were thinking, 'What do we do?" Everything just felt so out of reach."

That's when the care bag was born. The bags are customizable to fit the needs of each family. So far, the Black Student Union has raised $14,000, netting $9,000 in the first week. They said they got a lot of support from Nebraska's faculty.

"We are a diverse community, and in order to maximize the help we're going to give, we have to understand not everybody needs the same things," said Aiah Nour, a member of the Union. She's been helping to pack the bags.

Whether it's a hygiene item, fresh food, diapers or over the counter medication, you can request it on the form. Taking care of wellness in the Black community seemed like a good place to start making a change. Per the CDC, COVID-19 affects black people five times the rate it does white people.

"It's systemic. It's not just police brutality," said Ibrahim. "It is in the healthcare system. It's not because COVID is targeting black people, it's because our healthcare system isn't targeting black people."

As the demand for the bags continues to grow, so does the desire to make a change in Lincoln.

"Lincoln is my home, and in the same way I want to feel comfortable in my home, I will make that happen," said Ibrahim. "The care bag initiative to help our community and spark those conversations. How do we create a community that doesn't need those care bags?"

If you would benefit from the care bags,

If you'd like to donate to their cause, you can send them money via Venmo at @unlblackstudentunion or on Cash App at @UNLblackstudentunion.

"I believe it is in such times that community is important," said Damien Niyonshuti, a member of the Black Student Union. "We try and do something that's bigger than ourselves."