Members of a local church are making the holidays a bit sweeter for residents behind bars. Community united methodist church is collecting donated hershey’s chocolate for the 900 inmates at dupage county jail. So far, they have 300 candy bars.
Executive pastor melissa hood started the program as a simple sign of forgiveness and hope.
“I don’t think there’s a single person I’ve met that hasn’t made a poor choice and has suffered the consequence of that poor choice,” said Hood. “In moments like that, when you’re really struggling or really feeling low about where you are or what’s happening in your life, the smallest things can make a huge difference.”
School children helped with the donation, coloring a picture on each bar and even writing messages on some of them.
“Gets kid it. Think about handing a candy bar to a little one. Their face lights up [and] this is a special moment,” she added. “They understand that people in jail are going to experience that at Christmas time.”
Winfield resident Steven Frick knows all too well that experience. He was in jail three times for cocaine and alcohol abuse.
“[I] Just really missed home,” Frick said. “It was difficult to be away from my family and wanted to be anywhere but the department of corrections on Christmas.”
But thanks to the not-for-profit JUST of DuPage, a group that volunteers inside the county jail, Frick has been sober since last being released in 2005. That same organization is partnering with hood and her congregation to give the inmates the chocolate this year. The group’s Chaplain Mary Ann D’Nofrio says once the inmates are freed from jail, they are just like everyone else.
“These people are just like you and I. They’re human beings. They’re god’s creations,” she said. “They’re your neighbors. They’re your brother, your sister, you’r daughter. They’re your son. And while it may be just a small thing, it tells that people care and believe in them and we all deserve a second chance.”
“Everybody needs to enjoy Christmas. It’s charity. It’s love,” Frick said regarding the donated chocolate. “It’s the time of year where we look upon the less fortunate and hopefully we see ourselves and other people and think that could be me but by the grace of god it is not.”
Volunteers will deliver the chocolate on December 13th, at which time they’ll also sing carols. The inmates are also allowed to send three Christmas cards to loved ones.
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