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TDOC Seeks Help for Children of Inmates

Thursday, November 08, 2007 | 06:00pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - They are often considered the forgotten victims of crime.  Children of inmates are the most severely at-risk children and youth in America today.  In fact, they are six times more likely than their peers to end up in prison themselves.  The holidays present a particularly difficult time for children of inmates.



“Imagine being 5, 6, or 7 years old and waking up Christmas morning not only to not have your mom or dad there, but you don’t have any presents either,” said TDOC Volunteer Services Director Richard Dixon.  That’s why the Tennessee Department of Correction and the Prison Fellowship Angel Tree Program have teamed up to make the holidays a little brighter for thousands of Tennessee children.  The public’s help is desperately needed in this effort.  Prisoners sign up for their children to receive Christmas gifts from volunteers on behalf of the incarcerated parent.

“When kids receive a Christmas gift from a parent who’s away, they know that they are loved and remembered even if they can’t be together,” said Mary Kay Bear, an ex-inmate who founded the Angel Tree Christmas Program in 1982.  While in prison, Beard witnessed the heartbreak of women who hoarded small bottles of shampoo, toothpaste or whatever they could get their hands on.  These items were wrapped in toilet paper and given to the children during their Christmas visits.

There are more than 3,000 children of inmates in Tennessee in need of help this season.  To make a donation by mail, please send your check to:  Prison Fellowship, P.O. Box 1077, Hendersonville, Tennessee 37077 or call (615) 989-1455.

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