Members of the M2/W2 Association in Abbotsford recently prepared and delivered 75 gift bags to Alouette Correctional Centre for Women. (Submitted photo)

Members of the M2/W2 Association in Abbotsford recently prepared and delivered 75 gift bags to Alouette Correctional Centre for Women. (Submitted photo)

Abbotsford organization donates 75 Christmas gift bags to women’s prison

M2/W2 Association donates to Alouette Correctional Centre for Women

The Abbotsford-based M2/W2 Association – Restorative Christian Ministries prepared and delivered 75 gift bags on Dec. 14 to women at Alouette Correctional Centre for Women (ACCW).

The bags were sewn by the volunteers and filled with toiletries, holiday treats, colouring books, pencil crayons, crosswords, and more.

Along with the bags, the group left a Christmas card for each woman and a video of holiday greetings and songs.

“We make the bags every year,” said Linnea Groom, volunteer coordinator at M2/W2. “It’s so wonderful to make things special for people. I love being able to contribute to a little bit of joy.”

M2/W2 is a non-profit organization that provides mentorship and practical support to people affected by incarceration, and has delivered the gift bags to ACCW since the prison opened in 2004.

In addition, volunteers have presented a Christmas event for the women. This year, however, as pandemic-related restrictions on visitors and volunteers programs continue, Groom didn’t expect there’d be a program. She wasn’t even sure whether the gift bags would happen.

But in August, she was contacted by BC Corrections staff, who invited Groom to prepare the usual Christmas program – but in video format. The institution also said the gift bags would be welcome.

The bags are made from cloth, and feature festive patterns and string-tied enclosures. The contents were pre-approved by BC Corrections and donated by Partners in Hope, a non-profit that has teamed up with M2/W2 on this project from the beginning.

RELATED: Offender reintegration program gets $1.23 million in federal funding

“The women love the bags,” Groom said. “They use them throughout the year to store toiletries and letters.”

“I think it’s significant that these bags are made by hand,” said Raymond Robyn, M2/W2’s executive director. “The efforts our volunteers put into finding the fabric, cutting and sewing the bags, and preparing the contents is a reflection of their compassion for the women at ACCW.”

Many of the women who sewed and prepared the gift bags are also volunteer mentors with M2/W2’s in-prison mentorship program.

Due to the pandemic, that program, along with other volunteer programs, has been suspended. In its absence, the organization has been encouraging volunteers to communicate through letters and phone calls, when possible.

Before the pandemic, more than 200 M2/W2 volunteers were mentoring people at 13 federal and provincial institutions across B.C.

RELATED: United Way grant provides food to 100 former prisoners, families

Through its programs, M2/W2 shares outside perspectives with people in prison and on parole, and supports them as they seek restoration, healing, and accountability. Many mentors and their matches form long-term friendships.

One former inmate at ACCW described how it felt to open the bags: “We got the chance to be like everyone else. We got a present and we knew it was given by women who cared about us and our well-being. It was a time to think about something different than the doldrums of prison life. You’d hear ‘Look what I got!’ or ‘I can sure use this,’ or ‘Smell this shampoo! It’s awesome!’ When you looked around you’d see the sparkle in eyes that were once dimmed by time.”

Charity and DonationsChristmas

Just Posted

/  Bob Friesen Photos
PHOTOS: Father’s Day Parade cruises through Mission

Taking It To The Streets event featured about 100 vintage vehicles

Alexis Paige Simpson has not been in contact with her family in two months. (RCMP photo)
Chilliwack RCMP looking for missing 20-year-old woman

Police say Alexis Paige Simpson has not been in contact with her family in two months

(Maps.Chilliwack.com)
RCMP seek dash-cam footage after Chilliwack road rage incident

Male driving a black pickup stopped and allegedly threatened to punch another driver

Deepak Sharma of Abbotsford has been convicted of the sexual assault of one of his cab passengers in West Vancouver in January 2019.
Former Abbotsford Hindu temple president convicted of sexual assault

Deepak Sharma assaulted a female passenger when he was a cab driver

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Agassiz toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

One Reconciliation Pole and two Welcome Figures were unveiled during a ceremony in honour of truth and reconciliation on National Peoples Indigenous Day at the Vancouver School District in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, June 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Horgan marks Indigenous Peoples Day by urging recognition of systemic racism

National Indigenous Peoples Day has been marked in Canada since 1996

Most Read