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Local group hosting 2nd annual Inmate Toy Giveaway

By James Felton, James Paxson

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    Michigan (WNEM) — One local group is making an effort to make sure children with a parent behind bars get to experience the joys of the holiday season.

Genesee County Ambassador Johnell Allen joined Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson to talk about the second annual Inmate Toy Giveaway.

“We’ve been able to collect over 5,000 toys this year. Over 700 plus people, children, will be blessed today,” Allen said.

Families of those sitting behind bars came to the Genesee County Jail for some holiday cheer.

“Kids don’t need to pay the price for our bad actions as adults. So, we were able to use the ambassadors to go to the floors. Moms and dads are writing personalized Christmas cards to their kids. We’ve got our great partners in the community to donate money and toys, and they’re coming here to get toys with their card,” Swanson said.

Residents receiving these gifts appreciate the kind gesture.

“I think it’s dope to get gifts from the county jail, from the parents that’s stuck in jail that can’t be there,” said Shantel Edwards.

Edwards has a loved one spending time in a cell right now. She said even though he is going to miss Christmas at home, the event lifted his spirits.

“He was excited to know that I was on my way up here to come get the stuff from him. He’s been excited about it,” Edwards said.

Both Swanson and Allen say they plan on making the Inmate Toy Giveaway a holiday tradition in Genesee County.

“We look out and we see these faces, and this is what it’s all about. It’s all about restoring hope and changing culture, and that’s what we’re doing,” Allen said.

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