DECEMBER 12, 1996
The spirit of the holidays can be found in North Carolina prisons where correction officers and inmates help communities, while churches and volunteers bring Christmas into prisons.
Bladen Youth Center community work program inmates cleaned the grounds and buildings and helped set up decorations at Harmony Hall twice in the last month preparing the historic site near Elizabethtown for weekend Christmas tours.
"The holidays are a time of faith and sharing. During the past year, I have seen our employees and inmates giving their all to help communities and individuals across the state," Correction Secretary Franklin Freeman said.
At Franklin Correctional Center, employees donated over $800 this month to provide Christmas gifts for foster children in Franklin County. Prison employees purchased the gifts and provided them to the county's Department of Social Services where they will be handed out to the children at a Christmas party next week.
At Polk Youth Institution, staff are buying presents for a seven-year-old burn victim. Western Youth Institution employees have a food drive to help several seriously ill staff.
The inmate service club at the Raleigh Correctional Center for Women has used money they raised this year to purchase materials and make 80 lap quilts for the residents of a Henderson nursing home for Christmas.
Prison Fellowship's Angel Tree project expects more than 400 churches, organizations and individuals to provide gifts to 14,000 children in North Carolina this year. Through Angel Tree, Prison Fellowship seeks to reach the children of prisoners to deter them from a life of crime. "There's a lot of church activity here," said Pat Chavis, superintendent of Lumberton Correctional Institution. "There's something nearly every day with visits by a community handbell choir, a play and a visit from a professional football team's chaplain."
The prison will also have visits from church singing groups and a Moore County youth drama program.
Although some correctional officers have to work Christmas day, the prison system gives correctional staff first consideration at being home with their loved ones.