Churches donate school supplies to inmates’ children

Volunteers at First United Methodist Church work to fill up 75 bags with school supplies Thursday for their back-to-school ministry for children of inmates at the Davidson Correctional Center. Sorting the supplies are (from left) Becky Myers, Geryl Myers, Lynda Charles, Tanya Leonard and Terri Beck.

Inmates in the Davidson Correctional Center may receive some gifts and acts of kindness, but the back-to-school ministry for children of prisoners touches more than just the men behind bars and extends to their family.

The Davidson Prison Ministry, compiled of members from about 40 churches, was stuffing bags of donated school supplies Thursday morning for the children of inmates at the prison.

Supplies were collected from First United Methodist, First Baptist on West Third Avenue, Jersey Baptist and Meadowview Reformed Presbyterian churches. Members of the Davidson Prison Ministry board volunteered their time to fill bags with notebooks, scissors, crayons, glue, pencils, folders and much more. Recyclable bags were donated by Walmart in Lexington.

“We have to hope we put the right things in,” said Newell Davis, board member of the Davidson Prison Ministry, adding that they could not guarantee the age of a child.

On Saturday and Sunday, the prison allows visitation hours during the morning and afternoon. While the members of the board are not allowed in the visitation room with the family, they stand outside and as the families leave, they will offer a bag of supplies to each child.

Tim Martin, chaplain for the Davidson Prison Ministry, said while other endeavors may not receive a response, the back-to-school project often gets “thank yous” from the inmates.

“We want to bridge a gap between the inmate and the children,” Martin said, noting that the inmates cannot go out and shop for back-to-school supplies with their children. “We want to boost unity, foster a spirit of love and show them Christ loves them.”

The donation project has two goals, Davis said. The first goal is to forward the gospel of Christ. Every bag of supplies has a booklet with the story of Jesus. The second goal is to assist the family and show the inmates that someone cares for them and that love encompasses their family as well.

“I’ve taught eight years with the prison ministry, and in my discussions with inmates, I’ve felt a lot of compassion for what they have been through. Not that they are totally innocent, but I think they appreciate the help,” Davis said.

The Davidson Correctional Center is a minimum-security state prison on Thomason Street off Raleigh Road. The approximately 280 inmates represent all kinds of crime

“Our goal is to share the love of Christ and for the inmates to see that people really do care for them regardless of the circumstances,” said Davidson Prison Ministry board member Tanya Leonard. Leonard attends Lexington Community Church.

“It’s about breaking down that barrier and letting the inmates know their life doesn’t have to be like this. We want them to come out changed because if they come out changed, they won’t have that desire for that old lifestyle. If you get a changed prison inmate for Christ, he’s going to do things differently. He won’t be that criminal again,” Leonard said.

Rebekah Cansler McGee can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 228, or a trebekah.mcgee@the-dispatch.com.

BY REBEKAH CANSLER MCGEE
The Dispatch

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