COLUMBIA (WACH) - At Saint Andrews Baptist Church, volunteers are working to put together over 20,000 Christmas packages which will then be distributed to South Carolina inmates across the state.
Churches across the state send the supplies to Saint Andrews, where they are then sorted into individual packages.
The packages contain items like a toothbrush, soap, and envelopes with a stamp on them.
Items that may seem simple, but turn out to be so much more.
"There's no such thing as a simple item to an inmate at Christmas time because I have about 650 women and a lot of those women do not have contact with their families. And to receive just a bar of soap, toothpaste, it means the world to them." says Delcinia Jameson, a senior chaplain at Leath Correctional Facility.
And former inmate Christian Owens backs up that statement wholeheartedly.
"When you receive these packages in prison, it brings so much joy to all of our hearts. The envelopes have been really important and the soap...just smelling something from the outside that normally you wouldn't be able to buy inside the prison, it helps you get through the holidays a lot easier." says Owens.
The experience touched her so much she is now volunteering at Saint Andrews to bring that same joy to others.
"I remember, I had been in prison for about a month when we got these packages and it was a very lonely time for me and I always said if I got the opportunity to come and give back, I would be able to do it. And so being on both sides of the fence has been a privilege." Owens explains.
She now works alongside volunteers like Tim Brown, who comes year after year to do his part to make sure inmates don't feel alone during Christmas.
"Many of them, this is the only gift they will receive at Christmas time. It's to express our love and Jesus' love for them during this special time of the year." states Brown.
And Christian has a few words for volunteers like Tim who give their time every year.
"You have no idea how much we appreciate everything you've done. Me being a former inmate, it shows that people do care about us. We're not bad people, we've made some bad choices." explains Owens.