Imagine Christmas without music, family, laughter, decorations, without snow, or a tree complete with lights, trimmings, and presents below, without being able to give or receive, without Jesus. For those incarcerated, this typically joyous occasion is overshadowed with sadness, grief, shame, depression and guilt, as inmates find themselves separated from loved ones and celebration.
With the help of church and community volunteers and funds, dozens of inmates at the Douglas County Jail have had the opportunity to make “Blankets of Love” for loved ones over the past 5 years. The idea was birthed after an inmate requested “Blankets of Love” to be given to her children for Christmas back in 2010. Blankets were purchased by local church members and delivered, but it seemed that more needed to be done to truly communicate the heart behind “BLANKETS OF LOVE”.
The following year, female inmates were invited to request fleece fabric in their child’s favorite colors and design, which the mother was then able to cut and tie with her own hands. Volunteers then wrapped and delivered these handmade “BLANKETS OF LOVE” before Christmas. Since then, the opportunity has been extended to all inmates, who can make at least one blanket, even if they have no children. The recipient’s name, along with a Scripture is also embroidered on the blanket, and Christian books or DVDs have been included if the inmate so chooses. Last year, 82 “BLANKETS OF LOVE” bridged the gap and brought joy to inmates and loved ones, who also suffer the sadness of separation at Christmas.
While attending the Regeneration Center banquet this fall, I struck up a conversation with the man sitting next to me. I soon realized that, as an inmate last Christmas, this man had made a blanket for the beautiful daughter who was sitting beside him! He told me how very thankful and proud he was to make and give that gift to her. The blanket was very well received and holds a place of honor on her bed to this day! After being released in January of this year, this man was reunited with his daughter and kept in touch with Dave Schonberg, whom he also met while incarcerated. A few months later, he started working with Dave at Opportunity Enterprises where he is now a foreman, managing orders for parts from WASP.
If you would like to share the love of Jesus with inmates and families this Christmas, help is needed with shopping, preparing fabric, and wrapping. Funds are also needed for the blanket supplies, Christian books, DVDs, and the Jesus Storybook Bibles. Donations may be made to the Regeneration Center (please Memo to Blankets of Love). If you would like to help or have any other questions you may contact Ardyce Harris at 320-766-2019.