How To Help Incarcerated Loved Ones This Holiday Season

How To Help Incarcerated Loved Ones This Holiday Season

For a lot of people, the holiday season is the best time of the year. But for your incarcerated loved ones, the holiday season behind bars can be the loneliest time of the year.

If you’re behind bars, you can’t help but think about your friends and family celebrating at home. Maybe they’re opening presents around a Christmas tree. Maybe they’re all in the kitchen enjoying food that smells wonderful. Or maybe they’re just at home enjoying a day off.

But for your incarcerated loved ones, the opposite is tru. They’re not celebrating. They’re not with friends and family. And they’re certainly not opening presents around a Christmas tree, enjoying great food or even getting a day off.

Image courtesy of Corey Coyle via Wikimedia Commons.

What can you do to help your incarcerated loved ones this holiday season?

As tough as the holiday season can be for your incarcerated loved ones, here are a few ideas to make this time of year a little more enjoyable…

Send Them Something

It doesn’t take a lot of time or a lot of money to send someone in prison a letter. As affordable and quick as it is, letters can make the holidays so much brighter behind bars.

Kristine Bunch, our Outreach Coordinator, specifically remembers how her brother would take a cinnamon stick or a piece of a Christmas tree and sit it in a card or a letter for a couple of days before taking it out and putting the letter in the mail.

When she got the card or letter, she says, it was beautiful. And the smell — of the holidays and of home — meant the world to her. She was also extremely grateful for pictures of holidays and home. She especially loved seeing her son playing in the snow and sitting on Santa’s lap.

Get Them on the Phone

Kristine also talked about how important it was when her family would call her on the phone during their festivities to allow her to say hello to everyone. This saved a lot of money and let her be part of, at least in a way, what was going on. While she was sad that she couldn’t actually be there, she was extremely happy that her family was together and safe.

For facilities with video visits, Kristine also suggests doing a video visit when everyone is together so that the entire family can be there. Maybe you can sing holiday songs together or do other holiday traditions.

Finally, you can visit your incarcerated loved ones during the holiday season in person. Unfortunately, we not everyone can make an in person visit. But organizations like Use What You’ve Got Ministries help with transportation so that people like Kristine can see their family.

Image courtesy of zenmasterdod via Wikimedia Commons.

Help With Commissary

Another helpful idea that Richard McDonald, one of our Board of Directors members, recommends is putting a few extra dollars in your loved one’s commissary account. Although your loved ones will always tell you that they prefer a letter, a phone call or a visit from my family, it’s important to know how much commissary helps.

Tell Them About Angel Tree

Finally, Kristine and Richard both recommend the Angel Tree program. This program allows incarcerated people to give their children gifts that come from them.

The Takeaway:

This holiday season is going to be tough on your incarcerated loved ones. The bad news is that this won’t change. But the good news is that there’s a lot you can do to help.

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