Prisoners not barred from givingThere may not be a chimney at the local jail, but Santa still finds a way to drop in with some holiday spirit.
By: Brittany Lawonn, The Forum, Worthington Daily Globe
There may not be a chimney at the local jail, but Santa still finds a way to drop in with some holiday spirit.
As the holiday shopping season kicks off, The Salvation Army soon will begin helping inmates give their children presents, complete with gift tags in the inmate’s own handwriting.
“In their eyes, they’re thinking my daddy took the time to get me gifts,” said Capt. Deannie Moore of The Salvation Army. “It really is to help that relationship between the parent and the child, to help keep that up.”
As the holiday nears, The Salvation Army goes into correctional facilities and asks inmates if they have an idea as to what their child would like. If not, an age-appropriate gift is selected.
The longstanding tradition is made possible through donations and Angel Tree tags. About 500 gifts are sent out in the mail locally each year, Moore estimated.
“To go into the jails and see these people who you know the world looks at as hardened criminals, and they’ll cry because they are so appreciative that someone is helping them to reach out to their children,” Moore said. “They really look forward to us coming.”
The annual tradition is “definitely a morale booster,” said Cass County Jail Administrator Capt. Carlos Perez.
But the gifts aren’t just for children. Residents in the Cass County Juvenile Detention Center also are able to pick out presents for their parents or guardians.
Some choose not to do so, but others are touched that they can still participate in the holiday, Moore said.
Holiday greeting cards are also available to all inmates. The North Dakota State Penitentiary also provides birthday cards, a favorite for Louis Lugert, who says it helps him keep in touch with family and friends year-round.
“I have everyone’s birthday written down,” said Lugert, who will soon begin serving 6 1/2 years for his role in a February 2007 Fargo stabbing and robbery. “I’m not very good about it when I’m out, but when I’m in … it’s easier for me to remember.”
Lugert said he will also likely participate in the holiday program to send a gift to his son.