In 2018 we were able to supply a backpack filled with school supplies to about 80 children.
In 2019 we were shooting to provide 200 children of incarcerated parents with the essential school supplies they needed to the school year off on the right foot. Each backpack is filled with supplies and included a personal note from the incarcerated parent. The notes were full of hope and encouragement, as well as practical tips like brush your teeth, listen to your mom, go to church, etc. Notes received from prisoners, after the event was over, thanked us for allowing them this small opportunity to feel like a regular parent. When final numbers came in, we had somehow helped over 700 children!
2020 completes the 3rd annual Back to School supply event. While we are still waiting for the final totals on the number of children we were able to help and that number may be a little lower than the previous year due to the COVID-19 social distancing and quarantines in effect, that didn’t stop our directly impacted and formerly incarcerated members from coming together through mail and other means.
What started in 2017 from a Chaplain catching Denise Rock outside of a visitation park one Saturday morning and giving her a bag of about 30 gifts to hand out to children of the incarcerated as of 2019 has grown to providing a holiday gift with a personal card from the incarcerated parent to over 300 children with the gift being mailed to the child with the mailing address being the incarcerated parents address so that the children truly felt that their parent sent the gift.
Senator Brandes once said that criminal justice reform hasn’t happened in Florida because people haven’t presented it to be important to the legislator. Now is the time to act!