North Carolina Department of Correction news release

Last updated February 4, 1997

Correction Employees Brighten Holidays For Children

More than 500 children and senior citizens will have their Christmas brightened thanks to an Angel Tree project organized by a group of North Carolina Department of Correction employees.

"This project is what the spirit of Christmas is all about," said state Correction Secretary Mack Jarvis, speaking to more than 500 employees to kick off the Angel Tree project. "In the last year, correction employees have heroically rescued traffic accident victims, helped communities recover from hurricanes and ice storms, collected caps for children being treated for cancer and contributed to their communities in many ways. Thinking of others during the busy holiday season is another fine example of our employees’s spirit of caring, concern and action."

With Jarvis’s support, Gloria Shephard of the department’s Management Information Systems office organized the project that asked correction employees working in Wake County to provide gifts for those in need.

We wanted to do something that would have an impact in the community," Shephard said. "We wanted people to see that we’re not just an agency of discipline, but of love as well."

Shephard and a team of correction employees volunteered their time and contacted Wake County Human Services, the Helping Hand Mission of Raleigh and the Salvation Army for the names of people who needed help. Other employees recommended the department help the Central Children’s Home of North Carolina and the Oxford Masonic Orphanage, both in Oxford. And 60 correction employees who were recovering from crises were also included. In all, Shepherd said the department’s Angel Tree was filled with 585 names.

Secretary Jarvis presented gifts to Priscilla Alford,
Michele Weary (back row), Carrie Shultz,
Abigail Sanchez and Cynthia Kelly (front row-L to R)
from the Masonic Orphanage of Oxford during
kick off ceremonies for the Angel Tree project.

The Angel Tree names and their wishes were circulated through correction offices in November. All but a few names were selected. A fundraising project insured gifts for all. A number of food baskets were prepared for senior citizens. Transportation arrangements were made to grant a Raleigh woman’s request that her 71-year-old brother make the trip from a Raleigh nursing center to visit her home Christmas day. Another group of correction employees took on the special task of finding bicycles that children requested on their wish list. Some offices pooled their resources to buy new bikes and others made repairs to used two-wheelers.

Shepherd says the volunteers plan to make arrangements with Wake County Human Services and the Salvation Army to pick up the gifts Wednesday, Dec. 17. They will deliver the gifts to the orphanages in Oxford, too.

Western Youth Institution

Western Youth Institution of Morganton has played Santa Claus for a Burke County school. The school’s principle identified 12 children and suggested things they may need. Each of the prison’s departments sponsored a child. The prison staff collected more than $700 worth of new toys, clothing and quality used clothing. Funds were also raised to pay for school supplies, field trips and to purchase issues of the Weekly Reader.

The prison's employees have collected food for several co-workers who are facing medical and monetary crisis.

Craven Correctional Institution

For the second year in a row, prison staff have worked with a local school to adopt a family for Christmas. This year, the prison and a community church joined to help a family that has nine children. Staff collected toys, non-perishable food items, clothing and houseware items to give to the family. Each child will have a large Christmas bag with all of the gift items enclosed. One of the employees and a church member will deliver the gifts Christmas Eve.

Staff working with inmates in the prison’s horticulture program grew approximately 100 poinsettia, wrapped them for Christmas complete with bows and delivered them to the New Bern homeless shelter, Coastal Women's Shelter and the New Bern rest home.

DAPP - Halifax County

District 6A Probation and Parole staff members brightened the holidays for an underprivileged child this Christmas by donating $367.00 to purchase a bicycle, dolls, games and clothing for the child. A committee of district members chaired by Pat Thompson and comprising Karen Bozard, Tammy Lassiter, Doug Hardy and Penny Bunch spearheaded the project. Santa Claus presented the child with the gifts during a Christmas party attended by staff and the child's mother.

Rowan Correctional Center

Staff and inmates at Rowan Correctional Center helped several underprivileged families have a merrier Christmas this year by donating and repairing 30 bicycles for needy children in Appalachia. David Ellis, program assistant at Rowan Correctional Center, coordinated the bicycle project, and Mike Baker, maintenance director at the Center, assisted the inmates with the repairs. Volunteers with the Parson of the Hills Christian Outreach Program distributed the bicycles through community organizations.

Sampson Correctional Center

As founder of the United Community Outreach Program and Christmas Caring Toys for Tots Program, Valerie Reynolds has helped make a big difference in the lives of many less fortunate children and their families. Reynolds, a food service assistant at Sampson Correctional Institution, has spent the last four Christmases organizing and running the program which provides approximately 200 needy children each year with toys and food during the holiday season. The program culminated with a holiday party complete with food, entertainment and a visit from Santa.

DAPP - Durham County

Probation and Parole officers in Durham reached out to help the community this holiday season. They formed a Food and Clothes Team committee known as FACT. They collected donations and presented representatives of the Durham Dept. of Social Services and the Durham Rescue Mission with several boxes of canned food and more than 20 large bags filled with clothes. Chief Probation and Parole Officer Geoffrey Hathaway was assisted in this project by officers Odessa Gatewood, Tonya Griffis, Donnie Harris, Myron Moore, Jesse Reaves, Alfred Solomon, Terence Eason, Rodney Ellis and office assistant Peggy Teachey.