- Date of publication 12-14-2004 This year the inmates, staff, volunteers, Mary-Anne Miskolzie, Roman Catholic prison chaplain—and associate with the sisters of Évron—along with a community church embraced the project called the “Christmas shoe box program” raising enough funds to send more than fifty-five boxes filled with various items from toys to toothbrushes to needy children in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Mexico.
Once the facility director approved this proposed project, the inmates were invited to participate in the helpful gesture aiming for an original goal of fifteen shoeboxes! The enthusiasm was extra-ordinary as prisoners set aside money from their savings to buy a variety of items often asking Mary-Anne to purchase additional items they wanted to include in the boxes.
Then they happily set about the task of packing the boxes sometimes even including letters inside the boxes! This kind of project allows prisoners to feel valued by giving them the opportunity to be part of something that helps others. It provides them with the chance to give of themselves and to be regarded as people rather than as criminals.
Inmates have very little funds yet they were willing to give what they had to bless a hurting child they never met. These kinds of projects help inmates begin and then continue to pursue a process of healing because through such actions their personhood is affirmed and once you are aware that you have value, your healing begins and can continue.
What a wonderful initiative and outcome Mary-Anne! Carmen Drabiuk and Eileen Loeffelmann are two other associates also volunteering regularly at the Fort Saskatchewan Correctional Centre. This is the same prison where Cécile Goyer worked as prison chaplain prior to responding to the call to serve on the congregational leadership team.
(…the photo and information contained in this article concerning the shoebox project appeared in the Fort Saskatchewan paper “The Record” )
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