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TEEM Helps Inmates Give Gifts To Their Children

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The Education and Employment Ministry is making Christmas a little easier for inmates and their kids. The Education and Employment Ministry is making Christmas a little easier for inmates and their kids.
The annual TEEM Second Chance Christmas party. The annual TEEM Second Chance Christmas party.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

The holidays are hard for those who cannot spend time with their family, especially if that means spending time behind bars. The Education and Employment Ministry is making Christmas a little easier for inmates and their kids.

The annual TEEM Second Chance Christmas party was held Thursday afternoon. The atmosphere was festive as inmates were able to enjoy a special steak dinner alongside instructors and benefactors. Program participants were also in the process of picking out presents for their kids from Santa's Workshop.

“There’s a lot of us that have children,” said Frank Thompson, a father of two boys who is currently serving a 13-month sentence. “It’s going to be nice to give them something when you really don’t have much.”

Working with about 400 inmates each year, TEEM is tasked with finding enough toys to gift upwards of 1,000 children. Executive Director Kris Steele said it is important for the kids to have a sense of normalcy during a stressful time.

“While the parent may have engaged in some activity that has landed them to become incarcerated, it’s not the child’s fault,” said Steele.

Without these donated items, prisoners have to get creative when it comes to presents, if they are able to give anything at all.

Valarie Loftis is grateful to have completed her 18-month sentence and she looks forward to buying gifts for her four sons with money from her new job in the culinary industry. Last year, however, was a struggle for her.

“When I was locked up,” said Loftis, “my son, I couldn’t do anything for him. A homemade Christmas card is about all he got, and I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for moms and dads to be able to give something to their children.”

The most important reward for the inmates, however, is the tools they learn from TEEM to help them achieve financial independence when they complete their sentences.

Thompson is excited to begin a Christmas tradition with his sons after his release.

“I can provide for my boys, not just for Christmas, but on down the road,” Thompson said.

If you would like to help with the toy drive, you can drop off unwrapped items at the TEEM office, located at 1501 N Classen Blvd, or browse the Amazon wish list by clicking here.

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