MILWAUKEE — For many people this holiday season, Christmas won't be complete because a family member is in jail.
Local volunteers have partnered with a national organization called Prison Fellowship to offer many inmates a way to connect with their kids.
"Trying to keep a relationship is so difficult when there is a person in prison, communication is hard, especially now during Covid," said Helen Ergen, a volunteer from Southbrook Church.
And gift-giving is even harder. So Southbrook teamed up with GodTouchMKE to help inmates get a gift and a message to their children in time for Christmas.
Prison ministries provide the names of prisoners who'd like to take part in the program organized by Prison Fellowship. The names are shared with organizations, such as a church, whose members purchase the gifts, $25 or less, for the kids.
"More than that, more than the presents, is the opportunity for her dad to be able to give her something," said Nicole Nowak.
Nowak says her daughter's father has about eight more years in his sentence.
"I think she'll [Nowak's daugther] be excited. I think she'll be happy to know her dad is still able to reach out to her," said Nowak.
According to prison fellowship, there are one-point-five million kids across the country with a parent in jail.
Ergen says they're helping inmates from at least a dozen prisons in Wisconsin and several who are jailed out of state but have family in the area.
The event also makes an impact on the gift givers, too.
"It feels great. It feels awesome," said Jimmy, a volunteer at GodTouchMKE. "I never used to feel that way in my heart. But my life has changed. Being here at God Touch, and now I want to be a giver instead of a taker. "