While Christmas is supposed to be a time of happiness, for those in jail it can be a tough time. But one local sheriff's department is looking to spread a little joy to the inmates and their loved ones.
For Vernon County Jail inmate Brandon Shannon, the holidays have different meaning this year. But a program through the jail is allowing him to send a Christmas card to his grandmother.
"My grandma's always been there for me, since little and before I got locked up I was helping take care of them,” says Brandon Shannon.
Jail Chaplain Gary Almquist started the program three years ago. Inmates get to send cards to loved ones for Christmas and Mother's Day.
"I read of a story where a ministry went into one of the major prisons and they provided Mother's Day cards to the inmates. And it was just the thought that since I've been working here as a chaplain for about seven and a half years now, that we could do something here in Vernon County,” says Gary Almquist.
The cards are supplied by A.R.M. Prison Ministries in Joplin and Almquist supplies the stamps. Vernon County Sheriff Jason Mosher says these cards are vital for the inmates.
"These are some of the best days at least to give the inmates a chance to reach out to loved ones. Let them know that ‘just because I made a bad decision and I’m in jail, I’m still thinking about you.’ It’s good for them to still have that positive communication between family members,” says Jason Mosher.
"They need that family connection, and even though they're incarcerated they need that family support. Let their family know they still love them. Because they really don't get to communicate with them that often,” says Gary Almquist.
Almquist and Mosher say they will send out nearly 100 letters this year alone.