SURREY Pretrial Services Centre (SPSC) has once again worked to make the holiday season a bit brighter for less fortunate members of their community.
SPSC chaplains partnered up with Horizon Church to help put together hampers for 60 local families in need. These hampers included fresh food, gifts cards for two weeks’ worth of food, 234 gifts for 117 children (two per child) and blankets made by workers in the centre’s tailor shop. Notably, scrap fabric left over from various projects was transformed into fuzzy blankets, with special embroidery, to keep help the recipients warm and cozy during the holidays. As well, the generosity of the centre’s residents raised another $370 that the church will distribute to families.
Staff and residents of SPSC’s Right Living Community created 50 Christmas bags filled with hygiene products and treats for a local homeless shelter. Residents hand-painted each bag and, based on one resident’s recommendation, included a list of shelters in the Lower Mainland and a personalized Christmas card. Staff and a center chaplain hand-delivered the bags to Surrey Nightshift Ministries, which serves men and women who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk. Their mission is to serve people who are battling the effects of past trauma, addiction and mental illness by offering a connection with their community.
Also, responding to a call by a North Delta woman requesting that “anyone with love in their heart this holiday season to share a little of it with members of the homeless community,” residents created 100 personalized Christmas cards. These were presented to her at the centre, where she visited the Right Living community to thank the residents in person.
This season, the team at Okanagan Correctional Centre (OCC) not only brought cheer to the community by participating in two Santa Claus parades, but also undertook “Pie A Manager,” raising funds for the Oliver Kiwanis Share the Spirit campaign.
In November, OCC staff and residents pooled their donations to put gifts under the tree for two local families identified through the Oliver Kiwanis Club. This fundraising culminated in a pie-throwing money-raiser December 10, when four brave managers volunteered their smiling faces to raise money for the campaign.
At the start of lunch, officers timidly lined up for a $5 chance to throw a pie at a manager – but within 20 minutes, all the pies were gone, with nearly $150 raised toward a grocery gift card for one of the families.
FRASER & ALOUETTE
One morning in November, more than half a dozen individuals, both staff and residents, at Fraser Regional Correctional Centre (FRCC) helped to unload boxes of toys and gifts from four trucks.
For 15 years, FRCC has helped the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society behind the scenes, to help make the holidays brighter for hundreds of families. Last year, the hamper society helped 400 families – some of them, families of people who are incarcerated over the holidays.
Meanwhile, at Alouette Correctional Centre for Women (ACCW), residents have worked all year like Santa’s elves to give back. Using donated wool, they have crocheted hundreds of hats, scarves and blankets. Many centre residents learned to crochet and then donated their recreation time to produce the cozy gifts.
Their creations have gone to community organizations to comfort two- and four-legged friends. This year, Maple Ridge Community Services received boxes of scarves, hats and blankets to provide to seniors living independently, single mothers, children in foster care, people in shelters and others in need. Blankets went to the Maple Ridge SPCA and Katie’s Place, a cat shelter, to provide cozy comfort for injured and abandoned animals.
Jack, a gentleman who received a blanket in 2017, said at that time it was his sole gift that Christmas. This year, one of the centre residents remembered Jack and made a special blanket just for him.
Recently, residents of the Right Living community at Ford Mountain Correction Centre (FMCC) challenged centre staff to match their own generosity to the Children’s Christmas Bureau. The residents raised $308.75, which staff matched with $340 for a total donation of $648.75.
The Children’s Christmas Bureau provides new gifts to children of families with low income, plus food hampers to families, seniors and others.
As well, ’twas two weeks before Christmas when all through Chilliwack streets, FMCC officers and their families were stirring at the local seasonal parade, handing out BC Corrections tattoos and small gifts to younger children among the more than 10,000 attendees. Great effort by staff and local residents went into designing and building FMCC’s float.