Originally published in the 2017 Spring Quarterly Explorer
The Christmas shopping experience was amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed going shopping and delivering the presents. I was a little bit hesitant on the delivering part, but it turned out to be really great. At the end of the process I felt like I had helped a family who maybe wasn’t going to have a big Christmas. Not only were we serving the community, we were serving Christ and he is the reason for the season. —Parker Bradley
This year the Prison Ministry’s budget was increased in order to assist three families, and the Middle School Girls Sunday School Class was asked to adopt, shop, and deliver the gifts to the families. Sixth, seventh, and eighth graders each took a different family and were given a budget and asked to shop based on a list of needs, clothing sizes, and one gift item that might be needed/wanted.
On December 18, 2016, all of the gifts were brought to our Sunday School classroom to be wrapped for delivery. The children of the adopted families certainly would not be able to wait to open the gifts until Christmas if they were to SEE all the wrapped gifts.
One gift was NOT wrapped — the new pop-up book by Robert Sabuda, The Christmas Story, was purchased for each family. Upon delivery, one of the girls read the book to the family. It was hard to determine who was the happiest, the children receiving the gifts that were yet unseen, the parent of the children, or the girls making the deliveries.
Everyone who had the opportunity to meet one of the families was blessed by the experience. For RRCB young people there are few opportunities to know about families who have a parent in prison and who live in a very difficult situation. We pray that through this experience we know better what it means to help those in real need.
RRCB Prison Ministry Dollars 2016: How were they used?
In 2016, a total of $3,700 in Board of Missions budgeted funds, and $706 in Designated Funds (donated by congregation members specifically for Prison Ministry) were spent. Expenditures provided the following:
- Contribution to the purchase of Christmas gifts for all residents of Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center (BAJCC)
- Snacks and a Christmas Party for boys we visited at BAJCC on the third Thursday of each month
- 75 men’s undershirts, 65 pairs of boxer shorts, and 30 pairs of warm socks for the Richmond City Jail, where many residents are deeply impoverished and have no decent underwear of their own
- 800 first class postage stamps for residents of Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women
- Christmas gifts for three needy Richmond families with an incarcerated family member (read below)
- Scholarships for four Richmond area children to attend a week at All God’s Children Camp, specifically designed for children with an incarcerated parent
- Monetary contribution to Offender Aid and Restoration, a local non-profit serving former inmates who are transitioning to community after release
We are making a difference and we are grateful for your support.
Prison Ministry Volunteers: Norma Hays, Christie Lessels, Steve Lessels, Steve Lowery, Diane Shoemake, Jan Taylor, and Nathanael Blessington (BTSR student and member of Deep Run Baptist).