Some of the gifts donated by Clinton merchants to Hamilton students who remain on campus.

When Hamilton College switched to remote learning in late March, students moved out of their residence halls and those who were studying abroad returned home. But approximately three dozen students, primarily international students, remain on campus more than three months later.

Cathy Clarke, owner of The Clinton Florist, heard about the situation and wanted to do something special. She contacted other local merchants and together they donated small gifts for the students unable to return home.

“We’re all home and safe and sound,” Clarke said of her fellow business owners in Clinton. “We just felt it was the least we could do for them to make them feel more at home. I hope it cheered them up.”

The Clinton Florist provided daffodil plants, The Artisans’ Corner donated notecards and bookmarks, the Cremeria contributed tokens for free gelato, the Dessert Booth gave individually wrapped chocolate chip cookies, and Krizia Martin offered assorted keychains, sunglasses, cozies, and cellphone accessories. Even Clarke’s sister, an editor with New York Magazine who has been working remotely from Clinton, donated numerous issues of the periodical.

The gifts surprised the students when then went to pick up their to-go meals one Friday afternoon.

Khuslen Tulga, a rising sophomore from Mongolia, appreciated the gesture.

“The ‘free gelato’ token that I like tossing as I get bored, the potted [daffodils] sitting on my window, and the Clinton postcard sent to my family in Mongolia are all subtle but assuring reminders of the kind-hearted people of the local Clinton stores,” Tulga said. “Thanks to these local stores, Clinton town gained its pleasant appeal, and thanks to this community I feel at home in a place far away from home.”

Hamilton announced plans for reopening the campus for in-person instruction beginning August 24. Fall semester classes are scheduled to conclude the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, with final exams to be conducted remotely after the holiday to minimize the risk of infection due to travel.

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