Since our program began in 2020, we have been able to serve 40 families and over 150 children, providing them with Christmas gifts from their incarcerated loved one, while developing and/or reinforcing strong family ties with their incarcerated loved ones.
Gifts beyond the gates was created for the 2020 holiday season by Chazidy Bowman with her husband Rufus who was serving time at an Ohio prison facility. Mr. Bowman was very excited for the Christmas of 2019 so that he may sign up for the angel tree program at his facility, only to be denied the right of his children’s gifts because they were not biologically his. He was devastated and felt inadequate so having experienced how the Christmas tree programs were carried out were inside the facility, Mr. and Mrs. Bowman decided that they would create a space to ensure that other families would not have to feel the hurt and pain that they did, so out of this, Gifts Beyond the Gates was born.
The 2020 pilot program demonstrated that each member of the family gains something important from participation. The children may outgrow the clothing and toys they receive but securing their connection with a parent whom they might not see for much of their growing years is an invaluable addition to their lives. Helping that parent provide some tangible symbol of their love by providing clothing and gifts for the child is priceless.
In addition, the caregiving parent participant receives valuable advocacy training, learning what services are available to them, and how to advocate for their incarcerated loved one. The program hopes to build a growing care of advocates who will fight to improve conditions within the prison system on an ongoing basis. While keeping families together and bonded through the incarceration process.