I’m talking about bringing the holidays into the big house. Jesus’ birthday in jail. Holly Lock up! Jingle bells behind bars. And so on…
But seriously, all joking and cheap attention-grabbing aside, it’s been a good week with great acts of giving to chat about.
The Women’s group at my beloved church, Hope Chapel Kaneohe, aptly called the Women of Hope, recently participated in an interesting Christmas-related drive. We collected hygiene items, basic toiletries, some chocolate and other simple, nice, feminine gifts to help supplement the holiday presents female inmates will receive this year at the Women’s Community Correctional Center in Kailua.
I know that might sound weird to some. In fact, a couple people have expressed to me how odd they find this idea. But Prison Ministry is no new concept, and well, people in jail are still people.
A rant on my personal beliefs:
As an American, I believe in our corrections system. I believe that jail can and should rehabilitate people so that after serving sentences they can return to society. How is that to happen if incarcerated people are treated like lepers? Aren’t given any love? What’s the motivation to get out and assimilate into law-abiding culture if the average American won’t touch you with a ten foot pole.
I believe that love goes a long way in the rehabilitation process. And that it’s a necessary ingredient in creating well-adjusted citizens, in general. We all need love.
Now, I know that folks are locked up for a reason. They’re not all lily white and innocent. I get that, c’mon, I’m far from dumb. But people are people. And people need love.
And pssst Christians, we’re called to love everyone! Even those behind bars.
Onto the gift giving:
I am so humbled and honored by the friends who came by my house and dropped off items to give, the people who literally wired money to me and sent me carepacks of toiletries. I’ve literally been bowled over by the generosity I’ve witnessed this holiday season. Even in the toughest of times, people are still finding a way to reach down and give out. It’s so beautiful and amazing. And I’m just honored to be a part of this.
There are roughly 300 women in the Kailua WCCC at any given time; currently there are about 260 lady inmates. Every single one of them, even those in lock down units, will receive a gift bag this year for the holidays. The donated hygiene items will be essential for many of these women. And for too many, it will be the only gift they receive all year.
I am so spoiled with love. I literally cannot imagine spending a whole year in a place as dark, scary and lonely as prison and then only being loved on once. It breaks my heart and it makes me wonder about the crime cycle and the derivatives of criminal activity. The optimist prime in me knows that love and kindness can break that cycle, and prevent people from going down that road in the first place. I mean, I obviously have no study to cite on this one, but I just imagine how broken and angry, how lash-y out-y I’d be if I was relegated to a cell and ignored.
My friends gave me all kinds of goodies, shampoos and nice lotions.
We collected all the items at the Women’s event held on Monday, An Evening In December. It was an awesome night of praise, worship, fellowship and a fired up message from guest speaker/local celebrity Dawn O’Brien, from FM 99.5 “The Fish.”
On Wednesday, Pastor Tami, the women’s pastor at HCKB, drove all of the goodies up to the WCCC where my friend Chiffon and I met her. The two Pastors from the Correction Facility’s Chapel, along with a couple inmates came out to the car to get everything from us.
We all held hands and prayed together in the parking lot. Seeing the excitement and glee come over the faces of the ladies receiving these gifts was priceless. That was my Christmas present right there. They called me “sister,” and they asked God to Bless me. I have no idea who they are, or what anything in their past could be…. but when they thanked me, and prayed with me and called me sister, I had never been more affirmed of the importance this type of giving, ever.
I’m also feeling really called to go work in the system, hopefully with women or at the youth facility. Getting to meet the Pastors who work inside the jail and talk to them, and hear their excitement at new volunteers was really motivating too!
To everyone who bought items, gave money, brought things in: THANK YOU SO MUCH! It was truly a successful drive, and the holidays of so many women will be blessed. They also will use some of the items to gift to women when they get out, as they go to a halfway house or what have you, so these blessing will keep on going and keep on giving, all year long!
And for reading my little blog, as always, thank you!!