One New Hampshire family’s Christmas will be brighter this year, thanks to staff at CRJ’s Hampshire House, a reentry program for individuals transitioning from incarceration to the community.
Led by Hampshire House Assistant Director Jennifer Owens, staff members pooled money to buy toys, gift cards, and new winter coats for a working single mother, her two young children, and her cousin through the Salvation Army’s adopt-a-family program.
“I think that every child deserves a Christmas, and if we can help make that possible, then I am all for it,” Owens said. “All of the employees that participate feel the same.”
Growing up, Owens’ mother got her involved in an adopt-a-family program around the holidays. Owens carried the tradition on, first with her own daughter and, beginning last year, with her coworkers at Hampshire House.
For privacy reasons, the staff don’t meet or speak directly with the family. Instead, they work off a wish list provided through the Salvation Army of gifts the two kids – a 6-year-old boy and an 8-year-old girl – would like to find under their tree Christmas morning. In addition to the toys and games, the kids will also get winter coats and snow boots. There are also gift cards for the mother and her cousin, who lives with the family, to buy new coats for themselves.
And there’s a personal touch from Owens – stockings she makes for the kids, just like her mother used to do for the families they adopted during the holidays when she was growing up.
In future years, Owens hopes to find a way for Hampshire House residents to join in the program and help support a family in need.