Kids with moms behind bars get special Christmas surprise

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - On Saturday, children around the state of Mississippi with mothers who are incarcerated started receiving Christmas gifts collected by Health Assurances, LLC. The private company worked with the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) to try to bring a joyful holiday to kids that are missing their mothers over the holidays.

Over 150 families in 10 counties across Mississippi, including Hancock and Pearl River, will receive the gifts that they otherwise might not see. Organizers of the toy drive said that the message is to keep these separated families close together, and support the kids and the mothers through this difficult time.

"Because women tend to be the caregivers in their families, being separated from their children this time of year is especially difficult," said MDOC Commissioner Christopher B. Epps.

"Therefore, when Health Assurance, with whom MDOC has had a good working relationship for more than 10 years, came to me and said it wanted to do something for the kids of some of our female inmates, of course, I said 'Go ahead. We will be glad to support you.' We want to connect and reconnect inmates with their families as much as possible.

Health Assurances base office in the Select Specialty Hospital-Jackson was over flowing with items such as bicycles, games, dolls and electronics ready to be distributed to the kids in need.

"We did not expect the level of excitement we got," said Health Assurance CEO Dr. Carl Reddix.

"We have had toys coming from everywhere."

Organizers said the goal is for each child to receive three toys; one small, one medium and one large. Reddix said the program is not only for the children of the incarcerated women. He wants the inmates to know his employees care.

"Incarcerated women are among the most difficult populations in corrections-both for correctional health service providers and security administrators. Hopefully this expression of family support for these incarcerated women will strengthen their commitments to rehabilitate and transform into the 'model' our society needs."

Epps, Hancock County Sheriff Ricky Adam and Pearl River County Sheriff David Allison applaud the company for the effort.

"Showing inmates that you care about them goes a long way," said Epps.

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