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Children of inmates get Christmas care

December 19, 2000

Children of inmates get Christmas care



Editor's note: This is the seventh in a series of stories running on the 12 days before Christmas to recognize individuals and groups who make the holidays better for others.

By JULIE E. GREENE / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

Children of inmatesFor many people Christmas is a time to spend with family, but that can be difficult when mom or dad is in jail.

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Mount Hope Prison Ministries has tried to bridge the gap between parent and child at Christmastime for about 15 years, holding an annual party for the children of inmates at the Washington County Detention Center.

"They enjoy it. It's just a time to get out and relax and have a Christmas party," Assistant Director Wanda Sue Singleton said of the party called Tree of Hope.

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"For most of these kids it's just a time for them to see they're not the only ones," said Singleton, 28, of Hancock.

Prison Ministries began the parties after inmates asked the nonprofit organization if there was anything it could do for their families around Christmas, said Executive Director Lynn Singleton.

"I've had them cry while they're filling out their request slips" for their children, Wanda Sue Singleton said.

Churches and individuals buy and wrap gifts for half the children. Prison Ministries uses donations to buy the remaining gifts, which are wrapped by Singleton and volunteers.

Singleton said it's fun to shop for the kids, many of whom will get dolls, crafts, remote control cars or Old Navy shirts.

Besides the $30 worth of gifts for each child, every family will leave with a turkey and two or three bags of groceries.

Approximately 100 children, from infants to 15-year-olds, were expected at this year's two parties Friday at the headquarters for Prison Ministries at 25 Summit Ave.

The children attended a chapel service, listened to a reading of the Christmas story from the Bible, sang Christmas carols and shared a birthday cake for Jesus, Singleton said.

About 20 volunteers served snacks to the children.

Inmates will receive religious literature and bags of candy from New Life Assembly's food bank in Franklin County, Pa.

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