A man lies awake in his prison cell at night. With no light, no company, and no chance for a restful night’s sleep, he reaches for what he does have—crochet hooks and some yarn.
By morning, he has crafted a blanket.
Talent isn’t scarce among incarcerated men and women in places like the correctional facilities in Muskegon, Michigan. A host of arts and crafts—leather goods, crocheted and knitted items, quilts, paintings, 3-D sculptures, and more—are handmade behind the walls and often gifted to prison volunteers in recognition of service.
“Some of them may have learned at their grandma’s knee,” Prison Fellowship regional director Mary Engle says of the craftsmen in Muskegon.
The first time Engle saw their work was at a One Day with God camp, where children spend a full day with their incarcerated mom or dad. Before the visit, parents were encouraged to wrap their handmade quilts around their shoulders. At the end of the day, children could go home with a quilt that smelled familiar—and they could go to sleep imagining the arms of Mom or Dad wrapped around them.
Hats and blankets for premature babies, backpacks for children, and lap blankets for senior citizens are a few other highlights of their work. For them, the simple act of giving back is a highlight in itself.
“People on the outside often can’t fully embrace that these guys are so talented,” says Engle. “They can take items most of us would throw away, and they will make something beautiful from it. They have so much to offer, and they want to give back.”
Engle adds that when the community accepts these gifts, “it gives men and women a sense of value.”
As Christmas approaches, we have a very real opportunity to embrace prisoners and their families with the love of Christ. Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree program helps make that possible. A simple gift is a tangible way to connect prisoners’ families and point them to the One Who brings real restoration. To register or donate today, click here.