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Two crosstown colleges in Northfield, Minnesota, have shown that community means more than rivalry, filling each other's mailrooms with flowers after each suffered a tragic loss.
Back in March, three students from Carleton College bound for an ultimate frisbee tournament were killed in a car crash a mile from campus. In the midst of the heartache, students and parents at nearby St. Olaf College delivered flowers to the campus mailbox of every Carleton student.
Tragedy recently struck St. Olaf when a student was found dead in her dorm room on Oct. 8. The cause of death has not been confirmed, but the loss shook the close-knit school community.
When students at Carleton heard about the student’s death, they knew what to do.
“The idea emerged from a conversation I had with the two assistant directors of the Student Activities Office: Ana Sontag and Sarah Wojnicki,” said Becca Giles, Carleton Student Association president. “When the three of us decided we were going to do something, sending flowers to each student seemed like an appropriate response.”
Giles reached out to St. Olaf Student Government Association president Rachel Palermo in an email with the subject line "Carls love Oles.”
“Her email offered her deepest condolences to me and the entire St. Olaf community, and she mentioned that Carleton wishes to support us during our time of need,” Palermo told TODAY.com. “She said that they would be delivering flowers while we were away for fall break on Tuesday so we would receive them before starting class on Wednesday.”
The flowers were delivered by Forget-Me-Not Floral in Northfield and paid for by the Carleton Student Association Senate.
When Palermo returned from break, she found the mailroom brimming with carnations, sunflowers, daisies and roses, one for each of St. Olaf's 3,125 students, with handwritten notes of condolences attached.
“I was filled with gratitude for their act of solidarity, and I was proud to be a part of the St. Olaf and Carleton community," she said. "We may seem like rivals, but in reality, we truly care about each other.”
The story began to go viral this week when a Northfield resident posted about the moving gesture on Reddit, sharing a picture of the mailroom covered in flowers.
And as fate would have it, the school’s football teams will be facing each other at the Carleton campus on Saturday. Of course both teams hope to win the game, but the two school’s spirit of support has been a win for the whole community.