Inmates from Brown Creek Correctional Institution donated hundreds of items to Wadesboro homeless shelter Samaritan Inn on Wednesday.
The inmates are participants in the Reaching Out from Within program, which is designed to help rehabilitate inmates.
Brown Creek minimum custody program supervisor Kim Grimm and program volunteer Robert Levine donated the items to Samaritan Inn on behalf of the program and inmates.
The donations were received by the Rev. Mike Chambers, pastor of Believers Christian Center, which runs the inn.
Donated items included about 513 food and hygiene items, all non-perishable. Ramen noodles, chips, crackers, canned goods, popcorn and more, including brand-name products such as Tresseme and Head and Shoulders shampoo and conditioner, were among the donations.
“I think this is the first time a prison anywhere in the state has donated from its canteen,” Levine said.
Inmates in the Reaching Out from Within program started the project, then reached out to other inmates for help. It expanded from there.
Grimm said that the items were donated not only by inmates but by their visitors, family and prison staff. Inmates used their canteen credits to purchase the items— a big sacrifice since they only earn about $0.40 to $1 a day, Grimm said.
“So this is precious to those folks,” Levine said.
The pastor agreed.
“They’re definitely fulfilling a kingdom principle,” Chambers said. “They’re putting others’ needs ahead of themselves.”
Chambers said that he was grateful for the donation.
“They called yesterday and said they chose Samaritan Inn and I said, ‘Well, praise God!’” Chambers said. “We appreciate their help and everything they do.”
Levine said that he plans to continue the program’s donations.
“This is not a one-time thing,” Levine said. “We want to keep doing this. The guys did this themselves and have a heart and a desire to give back. They want to present the positive aspect of prison, since so many times you hear about the negative — that someone escaped, someone killed someone. Many guys do a 180 in prison.”
Levine thanked Brown Creek for letting the inmates make the donation, and remarked on the effectiveness of the Reaching Out from Within Program.
Inmates in the program use a curriculum called the “Blue Book,” which focuses on anger management, abuse, spirituality and more, Levine said. The program started in Kansas and spread to North Carolina following its success, according to the website of Courage to Change, the non-profit that began the program.
Chambers noted that further needs for the shelter include money and winter coats and jackets. The shelter can hold up to 40 people, but as of Wednesday afternoon, there were about 30 staying there.
Those who need a place to stay can call Samaritan Inn to set up an appointment. There are two live-in resident managers in the building. Chambers said that potential guests need to have at least two forms of identification and pass a screening test and that the shelter will house them if there is available space.
Samaritan Inn also has a Bible-based 12-step mental health and substance abuse recovery program through a partnership with Daymark Recovery Services.
The shelter is run by Believers Christian Center. To contact the church, call 704-994-9214.
Reach reporter Imari Scarbrough at 704-994-5471 and follow her on Twitter @ImariScarbrough.