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Spreading holiday cheer from behind bars

KNOX, Ind. - Starke County inmates are spreading holiday cheer from behind bars. The Monday before Giving Tuesday, deputies delivered wreaths made by the dozen who are part of the therapeutic community.

The program aims to give drug offenders a chance to be productive as they serve their time.

This year—for the first time ever—the warden and inmates decided to bring the holidays to those who may not have anyone else.

 “We’re making Christmas wreaths for the elderly people and the courthouses and stuff,” said one inmate, Samuel Singleton.

“Even though we’re in jail and stuff, there’s a different side to us. The people in here and stuff—we’re still helpful. We might have messed up and whatnot, but we’re still thinking about the people out there and helping get with our community,” said Singleton.

He and the ten or so other inmates working on the wreaths are part of the F.A.R.M., or Fostering a Recovery Mentality, program.

“I think it’s a pretty good program. It keeps your mind occupied on positive stuff instead of negative stuff. There’s more things to life than dope and staying in that type of environment, when you learn how to do stuff,” said another inmate, Robert Manns.

With more than 100 wreaths complete, the sheriff hopped in the car to deliver them.

“It’s part of giving back to the community. They are citizens that are embedded into the community and one day they will get out, back into society and this is where they live at, so it’s part of a big deal to transition back into the community,” said Sheriff Dulin.

The jail warden says the inmates were excited to help out.

“One of the guys told me today that holidays are a typically tough time when you’re locked up, and when we presented this idea, they thought it was pretty great, and they realized that there are many people that are maybe locked up, but their locked up in their homes, and they need some Christmas cheer,” said Warden Phill Cherry.

One of the folks ‘locked up’ in her home is 97-year-old Edith Gurrado, so one of the wreaths went to her.

“Well that’s amazing. That’s really neat. That’s really something. I never knew they did anything like that. They keep them busy then, huh? Keeps them out of trouble?” said Gurrado, laughing.

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