Employees and prisoners raise money to give kids Christmas
Two Rivers Correctional Institute is in Umatilla, Oregon. There are about 1,700 medium security inmates at Two Rivers and 100 more minimum security inmates in fifteen housing units spread across the campus.
For the last three years, employees have involved the prisoners in their efforts to raise money so they can buy Christmas gifts for kids in need through The Salvation Army.
Begun three years ago by Officer Apryl Bogue with help from Ms. Barb Martin, the program is now managed by Martin.
To kick of the program this year she created promotional flyers and posted them at each of the 15 housing units. Then she followed up by visiting the prisoners’ day rooms – going table to table – asking them to help.
When I asked Martin why she works so hard to get the inmates involved, she said they do it in order to increase the inmates’ capacity to be compassionate and caring for others, despite their situation.
“There isn’t a lot to look forward to especially during the holiday season as an adult in custody. This is an opportunity to feel like a part of something beneficial and bigger than themselves.
Part of our departments’ mission is to teach offenders to be pro-social in order to reduce recidivism. Random acts of kindness such as the toy drive is a positive way to show this. Through this event we are able to assist children in need and teach skills: it is a win-win for all,” said Martin.
They raised a total of $379.66 from the inmates alone!
Then, Ms. Sirena Deacon, Officer Mike Seefeldt, and Nurse Cindy Dieter took the money to Bi-Mart – one of our faithful retail partners during kettle season – and started shopping!
Bi-Mart kicked in a $50 gift card and an additional contribution came in from an unexpected source: Martin has it on good authority that the Bi-Mart manager donated his Christmas bonus.
The gifts were brought back to Two Rivers, wrapped, and placed under their tree. Employees donated another $1,600 worth of toys, bringing the grand total up to about $2,200 in donations.
I heard about the story when Salvation Army Lt. Sylvia Scruggs picked up the gifts last week. She posted this to her Facebook page and received more than 100 likes as well as 15+ comments and shares.
Sobbing on the side of the road as The Spirit filled my soul. I just left Two Rivers Correctional Center, where I picked up Angel Tree toys that were donated by employees and inmates who provided some of the funds from their trusts to help out. It blessed my heart that even incarcerated men still have Hope for others in need. I know the children receiving the gifts will be blessed, but God blesses the giver as well. Merry Christmas!
We want to thank all of the inmates and staff at Two Rivers for their sweet generosity. God bless you all and Merry Christmas to you!