When a student is going through a very rough time (perhaps they have lost a close loved one, had an extended illness, had a fire at home, etc.) I will invite them to my office to adopt a pet. At first I was going to do all dogs, but here's a secret I adore cats too (shhh don't tell Brooklyn.)
I'll let the student pick out a dog, fill out an 'adoption certificate' and give them a sheet on being a responsible pet parent. Hopefully it will brighten their day.
I got the basket at home goods, which I adore. The "pets" came from my local Good Will. I got 23 stuffed animals for $7!! Thank you Good Will!!