From wooden horses and trains to blankets and winter caps and mittens, inmates at federal prisons in the Fraser Valley brought Christmas cheer to families in Williams Lake yesterday for a second year.
Sarah Jackman, Coordinator of the restorative justice program Work2give, says many of the inmates feel strongly connected and passionate to the program that allows them to build everything from toys to bunk beds for needy families and youth.
“I get down there as often as I can, and I go and visit the guys in the prison and bring down pictures of the kids sitting on the rocking horses that they built or a bed that they built.”
“I got guys that are coming up to me and saying you know I never had a bed growing up, so this is really important to me. I had another man say to me this is the first time I’ve ever thought of anybody but myself since I have been in here.”
The program, which is run by the Punky Wilderness Camp Society, was founded in the Cariboo, says Jackman.
“Brian Lange, the man who came up with the idea in the first place, grew up in this area so he felt kind of an attachment to it.”
“The Chilcotin area of British Columbia is one of the most impoverished areas in the province so it seemed like a good fit.”
Jackman says although she would like to see the program to expand to other correctional facilities, the program is dependent on federal funding.
“I would love for it to be in every institution in British Columbia and have inmates working on this project, but the fact the matter is the Federal government is cutting programs like this.”
“We are very likely losing our contract at the end of this fiscal year. It will be up to us to find more funding to keep it going.”