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Holiday gift bags bring smiles to those in jail

POLSON — For the second consecutive year, Lake County Jail inmates will be getting a little something extra for the holidays. 

May Simmons is organizing an inmate holiday gift bag distribution. 

Last year 55 inmates received a gift bag on Christmas Eve and something sweet with their Christmas Day meal.

This year, Simmons plans to put a soda, chips, cookie, granola bar, hot cocoa mix and other snack items in each bag, which will be distributed on Dec. 24.  In addition, the Loaves and Fish food pantry in Polson will be contributing pies and cakes so that each inmate will receive a slice of pie or piece of cake with their meal on Dec. 25, she said. 

Simmons said she began the project because she knows what it’s like to be incarcerated during the holidays. “It’s a very difficult time of the year,” she said, noting that she’s a former inmate in the Montana Women’s Prison and spent time in isolation in jail. 

“This is a significant impact for their very limited quality of life,” she said of inmates in the Lake County Jail. “It takes off the stress and makes people happy.” 

A number of those treated with gift bags last year took time to write thank you letters, she said. 

A sampling of these comments follow: 

— “It sure is good to know that there is some good-hearted people out there that don’t just treat us like terrible criminals.”

— “Thanks for thinking of us when we are down.”

—”Thank you for our goodie bags!! I’m super blessed. I’ve been praising our Lord all day!!” 

— “It was quite obvious the happiness this brought to everyone.” 

Simmons is accepting donations of pre-packaged snack items through New Hope Center Montana, 610 N. Main St. Call 406-203-8017 for more information. 

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