PULASKI COUNTY, Ky. (FOX 56) – Parents spending Christmas in jail had a chance to send their children gifts.
Tuesday evening, the parking lot of Pulaski County Detention Center had cars lined up around the corner, with families eagerly waiting to see what they were getting from mom and dads for Christmas.
The toy drive was made possible by The Law Office of Jeremy A. Bartley, PSC, (JAB) through their non-profit organization, “JAB Community Foundation.”
Attornies from the law office dressed up as Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, and the Grinch to hand out the gifts to the families of the inmates.
For their second year in a row, JAB Law Office worked in conjunction with Jeana Riggs, Deputy of the Pulaski Co. Detention Center, on organizing the toy drive.
Through community partnerships across Lake Cumberland, JAB Law Office was able to raise over $8,000 and purchases gifts for 246 children, doubling what they did for their first year.
Each gift bag was valued at about $40-$50 each.
“There’s no reason for the children to pay a price also, above and beyond what they’re already paying, by missing their parents for the holidays,” Bartley said.
His wife, Kerri Bartley, said that after many conversations with their clients, the need became obvious for helping their clients outside of the courtroom.
“So frequently in our communications with our clients, they’ll talk to you about their families and their regrets, and their sadness about the fact that they’re not home with their children,” Bartley said.
The Bartley’s turned to Riggs for help with crowdsourcing ideas for presents.
Riggs handed out forms to the inmates with children earlier in the year. She had them indicate their children’s names and ages, along with suggestions for what they would like for Christmas.
“It’s just a small token of what they can do from behind bars,” Riggs said. “In my mind, the kids are innocent. Even though their parents have made bad choices, they still get some love and some attention from them regardless of their choices, because they don’t have a choice in it.”
One inmate is Walter Smith. Smith has been incarcerated for 19 months. He misses being away from his four kids, especially his youngest son who was only one month old when he had to go away.
“I’ve watched him grow up through the tablet, and it’s pretty hard,” Smith said.
Smith glanced through the gift bags and saw toys from dolls to earbuds, Bluetooth speakers, comic books, and Nerf guns.
“It’s awesome, I mean, it’s probably better than I can do when I’m out there,” Smith said.
The inmates were also given the opportunity to write on Christmas cards to their children.
“I wrote to all of them I hope they have a Merry Christmas, and I’m sorry I can’t be there, but I apologize and next year I promise I’ll be there,” Smith said.
Another inmate, Donna Barnes, wrote her two sons as well.
“I told them I was super proud of them. They’re straight-A students in school and I’m really proud of that,” Barnes said. “It’s a blessing because I still get to give them a gift when I’m not home I might not have been able to give it to them.”