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Providing Christmas for kids of inmates

Local radio show and non-profit organization organize annual toy drive

3 min read
caption A pile of donations for the Black Power Hour Christmas drive at Holly House in Dartmouth.
Decklan Z. Rolle

A long running radio show on CKDU and the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia are teaming up for their annual Christmas drive for the families of prison inmates. 

El Jones, a host on the Black Power Hour, said the show came up with the idea when connecting with incarcerated people who wanted to do something nice for their families while they were locked up.

The inmates wanted to support theirs and other families who might be struggling around the holidays, to make sure they feel supported, said Jones. 

“Prison affects communities, it affects families,” she said.

This charity drive and collaboration with The Elizabeth Fry Society has been going on for more than five years.

caption El Jones prepares for the next episode of the Black Power Hour, which airs every Wednesday at 9 p.m. on CKDU.
Decklan Z. Rolle

In a 2021 report published by the Nova Scotia Department of Justice, from 2015-2020 there has been an average of 467 people in custody in Nova Scotia.

The Elizabeth Fry Society offers clients with transitional housing, programs for those incarcerated and people in the community who need support, and court navigation services. 

Erin Desmond is the manager at Holly House, an extension of the Elizabeth Fry Society that provides safe housing for women, girls and LGBTQ+ people who have been recently released from jail. This is also a location where people can make donations for the Christmas drive. 

Desmond said there are 35 sponsors this year so far. She said having higher numbers this year is not a good sign. Desmond said part of this has to do with how inflation has been affecting families financially. 

“Unfortunately, we have the societal pressure of providing Christmas, but also just . . . as a parent, or grandparent, or guardian would feel like a failure or have a negative emotion or thought about yourself, if you can’t provide what people think Christmas should be,” Desmond said. 

Sponsored families can make a list of things they want to get for their families, whether it be toys, clothes, or even gift cards to shop for things their family may need. 

The deadline for donations is Dec. 15. On Dec. 20 the organizers start to collect the donations to have them ready by Christmas. 

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About the author

Decklan Z. Rolle

Decklan Z. Rolle is a reporter for the Signal. He is currently majoring in journalism and gaining a minor in contemporary studies at the University...

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