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UNC moms rally to provide support for student mental health



NC — Some University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill moms traveled to campus on Tuesday to do what they do best for students: Offer love, listen and provide lots of food.

The parent rally started in 2021 when moms wanted to do something to show their support for students dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and after several student suicides.

“I was shocked how much the students appreciated it,” said mom and organizer Martha Hocutt.

“I think the campus climate, in general, has been really tough in my four years with COVID, the sexual assaults [and] a lot of stuff,” UNC senior McKenzie Martin said.

Hocutt drove two hours from the Charlotte area to attend Tuesday’s event.

“We realized after the first one how badly these kids needed it,” Hocutt said.

Hocutt explained how current conditions for students are much different from her own experience decades ago.

“The hugs, the tears, the stress they’re under, the anxiety, it’s completely different than anything my generation went through,” Hocutt said.

Hocutt said mothers by nature are caregivers.

“Maybe you don’t have parents who support you and that’s ok too. I’ve got you,” Hocutt said. “That’s why I’m here.”

On Tuesday, mom and organizer Martha Hocutt drove two hours from the Charlotte area to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus for the parent rally event.

Martin said it was comforting for the parents to show support.

“It’s just one of the hardest times of the year, being in finals, and you’ve come back from the holidays, and everyone is feeling a little homesick,” Martin said. “So, having the moms out here is so comforting.”

Martin also attended last year’s event.

“Anyone’s mom can kind of feel like your mom,” she said.

UNC freshman Ava Bledsoe said she appreciated the support from the moms.

“I think this is so sweet, especially with the finals coming up,” Bledsoe said. “It’s my first finals as a college student.

“It really shows how much they care about us and our health and well-being.”

Hocutt said they’ve gotten great feedback from students, and heard several times how much they appreciated a mom hug.

“They just needed to be reminded that we love them and we see you,” Hocutt said.