“I don’t hear from my family… You people were my Christmas last year.”

Including our incarcerated neighbors in our holiday observance has become a tradition for many individuals and faith groups. Concord Prison Outreach’s Holiday Gift Bag Project provides all 1700 inmates at MCI-Concord and the Northeastern Correctional Center with gift bags. There is no doubt that this has a positive impact on the lives of these men, far beyond the receiving of a few useful items. These simple gifts, especially the handmade cards, let these men know that they have not been forgotten – and will probably be the most appreciated gifts you give this year. For some recipients it will be the only gifts they receive. The great impact that these bags have on the inmates can only be understood in their own words. Each year we
receive many thank you notes. Here are excerpts from a few last year:

“I want to thank you for the gift bag you gave me and for the card you made me, it really means a lot; it shows me that even though I messed up and ended up in prison, people still care.”

“Thank you so much for allowing me for a brief time to experience the power and compassion that filled my empty spirit.”

“Your gift and card are such a pleasant reminder of the compassion and love of others….”

This is a wonderful project for individuals, families, faith groups, clubs or organizations. also, adult volunteers are needed to sort the items and prepare the gift bags. This will be done at Trinity Episcopal Church, 81 Elm St., Concord, ma weekday mornings Tuesday, Nov. 27th through Tuesday, Dec. 11th from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm. In addition we will have two evening sessions:

Wednesday, Nov. 28th and Tuesday, Dec. 4th from 7:00 to 9:00pm. We request that volunteers sign up in advance for the two evening sessions by contacting Carol miller (978-369-3755 or carolhmiller@comcast.net).

Each gift bag will contain the following items DETERMINED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION:

  • 1 bar of deodorant soap (4-5 oz.)
  • 1 tube of toothpaste 5.8 oz. or larger
  • 1 pad WHITE paper (6”x 9” or 5”x 8”, 100 pages, no wire)
  • White #6 3/4 envelopes (6 1/2”x 3 5/8”)
  • 1 pair of white crew socks (no tube socks, knee highs, or “tennis” socks)
  • 1 plastic bottle shampoo (12-15 oz.)
  • 1 stick deodorant (no roll-ons, 2.75 oz. or larger)
  • a handmade holiday greeting card onpaper with drawings/words using pens, crayons, magic markers, water colors, or designs with rubber stamp and ink etc. Nothing glued on the cards (Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings, merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah; no religious cards; signed with first name only). For guidelines on handmade cards, contact Carol Miller.

We welcome donations of these items in any quantity. They do not have to be in sets as they will be sorted and assembled by volunteers. Cash donations are also welcome. Your tax deductible check may be made out to Concord Prison Outreach, Inc., earmarked “Holiday Gifts” and mailed to P.O. Box 383, Concord, MA 01742.

Gift bag items may be delivered from Nov. 27th – Dec. 4th to: Trinity Episcopal Church, 81 Elm St., Concord at the River St. entrance between Elm St. & Main St.

To learn more about the Holiday Gift Bag Project and other CPO programs please visit: www.concordprisonoutreach.org.