In the past few years, New Horizons Ministries has distributed Christmas Care packages to incarcerated men and women in Colorado prisons.
It all started with Chaplain Donna, whose heart was broken when she saw incarcerated women struggle immensely with self-worth, hopelessness, and depression over the holidays. We soon realized it was not just women in prison who were suffering, but men as well. Over the holidays, prisons consistently see higher rates of stress, self-harm, fights, and prisoner interactions with correctional staff, some of which can be dangerous, because of these emotional struggles.
For the first year, Chaplain Donna bought some nice soap, chocolate, some stationery products, and a Christmas tract, and had a few ladies from our community help put about four hundred packages together for the ladies at La Vista Correctional Facility.
Eventually, we decided to expand our Christmas Care Package Program to more facilities. This year we were able to distribute over three thousand packages to prisoners in five different facilities. This is over twice as many packages as we dispersed in 2021. This involved a significant operation including obtaining and storing approximately a half-ton of snacks, coffee, soap, and candy. All of which we were able to purchase because of the incredible generosity of our donors!
The process starts with a proposal to each facility with a list of items we would like to include in each package. The management team at the facility then processes the request and lets us know what modifications we need to make based on the population housed at that facility. We end up with five different lists unique to each facility. After sourcing all of the products, we have to carefully count and store the items until we are ready to assemble packages. To give you an idea of how much product we were storing, we ordered two hundred boxes of instant coffee, eight hundred pounds of bar soap, and well over one hundred large bags of candy.
To assemble these bags, we gather groups of volunteers in shifts throughout the day to form an assembly line and put the correct number of items in each bag and count them for each facility. Then once they were assembled, we transported them to the facilities where they went through an e-scan machine to be checked for any dangerous materials. Finally, once all the coordination work was done, we distributed the gifts, each one being given with a handshake and a smile.
The part that makes every moment of hard work worth it is the flurry of heartfelt thank-yous. Some of these recipients had no way of getting these simple products and went weeks, sometimes months without a quality bar of soap or a package of cookies, but it is not the scarcity of these products that moved the men and women to tears, instead, they are overjoyed to simply be remembered at Christmas.
Thank you for supporting men and women who are incarcerated. This operation could never be accomplished without you. From the incarcerated population in Colorado and their chaplains, thank you for being a source of hope this Christmas.