As Gene and Carol Kent continue to share their story, letters and e-mails pour in daily from people who are experiencing their own “new kind of normal” as a result of facing devastating circumstances. As a result of these needs, Speak Up for Hope began a mission project that reaches out, offering special encouragement to inmates and their families, and to prison chaplains.
Individual Hope Boxes
For individuals going through heartbreak, a “Hope Box” can brighten their day and bring the reminder that not only does God love and care for them, but that the family of God cares for them as well.
Each box is lovingly and beautifully packaged, and includes one or more of the following items: an inspirational Christian book, a CD, coffee mug, with flavored coffees or tea, bath and toiletry products, stationery, a candle and many other comfort items, plus the whimsical face of a small Beanie Baby or another stuffed animal (like a lion, teddy bear or lamb), peeking out of colorful crinkle-cut packaging, with a card declaring encouraging words such as, “God knows your name” or “Be strong and courageous.” Each box also contains a personal letter of encouragement from a member of the Speak of for Hope staff, letting the recipient know that they have been prayed for personally.
If you or your group would like to take part in the Hope Box or Prison Visitation Hope Boxes Project, additional information is available here.
One recipient recently responded to receiving a surprise package from Speak Up for Hope with this letter:
I wrote to your website a few weeks ago after my 19 year old son was arrested for DUI and vehicular homicide. Your mom wrote back and requested my home address. A few days ago I became the blessed recipient of an encouragement box. I am overwhelmed by the love and Christian spirit that was in that box. Thank you very much.
I will enjoy the contents I am sure, but the blessing of knowing that people I don’t even know care for us and are praying, is wondrous to me…
In His Love, Tracy
Prison Visitation Park Hope Boxes
One of the saddest parts of the prison experience is the loss of a strong family unit, and most marriages do not survive. As families come to visit, the time is often marred by children being restless and nervous in an unfriendly and scary situation. Prison visitation centers can be extremely bleak places. Often families travel for hours, anticipating a special visit, only to find that there is nothing for the children to do during the hours of visitation other than to sit at tables listening to adult conversation under the watchful eyes of prison guards.
Recognizing that funds are not often designated or available to prisons for items that might make visiting times more enjoyable for the children of inmates and their older family members and visiting friends, Speak Up for Hope ships boxes of hope to prison chaplains for distribution in the visitation parks. They send board games, word puzzle books, storybooks, playing cards, coloring books, crayons, etc. to many correctional institutions.
What a difference to see families playing together and having fun during visitation time! Here are notes that recently came from two facilities:
The love and kindness that you so genuinely share with us here at Hardee Correctional Institution are greatly appreciated. You and yours are in our prayers continually. Thanks for serving so faithfully–you’re appreciated. May God bless and keep you.
Your Brothers at Hardee Correctional Institution
On behalf of Brevard Correctional Institution I would like to thank Speak Up for Hope for the donation you made by sending us the books and other items. We can surely use them.
The items will be divided between our Main Unit Compound and our Work Camp Compound so that the families and children of all the inmates will benefit from your generous donation. I really can’t thank you enough, as donations are how we get by with keeping the kids entertained with activities so that the families can have a pleasant and smooth visit.
I visited your web site, and let me tell you, I found it to be very “Hope-FULL” and informative to myself and anyone who visits.
Secretary Specialist to The Assistant Warden of Programs