BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)–Mary Posey Thomas’ Christmas card list numbers more 1,000 this year — not counting close friends and family.
Thomas, a volunteer with the Birmingham Baptist Association’s criminal justice committee, is collecting Christmas cards for female inmates at the Julia Tutwiler Prison, Wetumpka, Ala.
Last year, 1,350 cards were collected — enough for the 800 women at Tutwiler, as well as the women’s work release program and women in the Jefferson County jail.
Now in her fourth year of taking children’s cards to the women at Tutwiler, Thomas said, “I’ve gotten cards from all over the state (for the project), from towns I’ve never even heard of.”
Thomas got the idea to deliver the cards through her involvement with the Birmingham Baptist Association’s prison outreach. “I asked the prison’s chaplain if we could give out Christmas cards. He said we had to have one for each woman in the prison, not just the ones who attended chapel,” she recounted.
Thinking the women might appreciate ones made by children, Thomas asked for cards from kids at churches, day-care centers, even Children’s Hospital.
“It’s fun for all who are involved,” Thomas said. “The children, and the adults helping them, learn more about compassion.”
Natalie King, who leads sixth-grade GAs at Green Valley Baptist Church in Hoover, said she reminded the girls “how hard it must be for these women to be away from their families during this time of year. I explained this is a way we can share Christ with them.”
Some children even used encouraging Scripture, King noted. “Sometimes children can communicate things adults can’t.”
On Dec. 1, several volunteers from the Birmingham Baptist Association were slated to distribute the cards to the women at Tutwiler. “The smiles and tears of these women make it all worth it,” Thomas said. “They save their cards from year to year. They cherish it because it was made by a child.
“Many of these women have kids themselves,” Thomas added. “It tugs their hearts to get something from a child.” Thomas reads all of the cards before delivering them, a task she loves. Thomas easily recites one of her favorites: “Dear woman, I know you’ve done something wrong. You think everyone has forgotten you — I haven’t, God hasn’t. We still love you. I just asked God into my heart, and you can too if you pray this prayer when you’re ready: ‘Dear God I know I am a sinner. I ask forgiveness for my sins, and I accept your forgiveness.'”
Brooks is a correspondent for The Alabama Baptist newsjournal.