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Illinois Prison Workers Play Santa for Homeless Families

Local 1866 chose to be nice, rather than naughty, and give gifts to those less fortunate.
By David Kreisman and Anders Lindall ·
Tags: Our Stories
Illinois Prison Workers Play Santa for Homeless Families
Members of AFSCME Local 1866 (Council 31) made a big difference for local charities MorningStar Mission and Lamb’s Fold. (Photo courtesy Local 1866)

ROMEOVILLE, Ill. – This holiday season, members of AFSCME Local 1866 (Council 31) at Stateville Correctional Center made a big difference for two local charities.

In separate efforts, union members who work at the Illinois prison made 80 fleece blankets for MorningStar Mission, a shelter serving the homeless, and fulfilled the Christmas wishes of all 50 children who wrote “letters to Santa” at Lamb's Fold,  a domestic violence shelter for moms and their kids.

Making the blankets was a group effort, said Anna McBee, a correctional counselor and Local 1866’s recording secretary. They bought fleece in bulk at a fabric store and cut it into strips, then held a blanket-tying night at the union hall with food and fellowship.

In addition to doing a good deed, the project builds solidarity. Along with 50-some members taking part, McBee said, “we even had retirees come and help.”

To answer the letters to Santa, they collected monetary donations from union members and other prison employees, then used the funds to buy toys at Target. The store helped out with a $500 gift certificate of its own.

The shelter “was overjoyed, they were so happy that we were able to buy everything on the list,” McBee said.

This was the local union’s second blanket drive and first time answering letters to Santa.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it,” McBee said. “I think it shows what kind of people we are: We work really hard to give back to the community.”

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