JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A holiday message from prison. Inmates serving time at the Montgomery Correctional Center reached out to their children Monday night. A local church and the sheriff's office made it possible for the men to be able to deliver a Christmas greeting with a strong message to their loved ones.
Many of us travel near and far to be with our loved ones for Christmas. But, what do you tell a child whose parent is confined behind bars for the holidays? It's a difficult conversation tackled head on Monday night at St. Paul Church of Jacksonville. Dozens of children were given a gift worth more than any toy, simple clear messages of regret that are coated with hope.
STORY: Imprisoned fathers record Holiday greetings, life advice for sons
"I'm excited for my grandson," said Terrell Felton. "Because he can't see him every day but at least he can put in his DVD and watch it."
Felton and her grandson Derrius are among the families gathered to watch video messages from their loved ones in prison. From behind the bare walls and bars of the Montgomery Correctional Center, into the decked halls of St. Paul Church of Jacksonville, the children's little faces lit up from the sights and sounds of their fathers.
"He doesn't want them to end up in a place like where he is," said Felton.
Save Our Sons, a group aiming to help break an ugly cycle of crime and confinement, helped to organize the event. The children of incarcerated inmates gathered to watch video messages urging them not to walk down the same destructive path their parents have.
"Their father even though he's made mistakes can still share with them the wisdom that comes from his own journey," said Pastor John Guns.
He says the children need to be reminded that their fathers love them and they have not been forgotten.
"It means a whole lot to me," said Kisha Stokes. "I'm grateful and blessed."
Stokes says the event called "A Father's Blessing" means so much to those with very little. Besides the video messages, the church and JSO also collected presents. Allowing her son to unwrap a few gifts, more than she believes she'll be able to provide this year.
"I'm happy because I can open up some presents for Christmas," said Lashawn Stokes.
The children were also able to make Christmas cards to send to their fathers at the Montgomery Correctional Center.
To find out more about SOS click here.
First Coast News