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When the holidays roll around, the air is thick with opportunities to expand our generosity to those who may not enjoy the same comforts as us. And while we may donate money, toys, or extra blankets, the most powerful and lasting gifts come straight from the heart.

Just Detention International’s holiday campaign is a simple way to send a little love and light to an incarcerated survivor of sexual abuse. Prison is a lonely place for all inmates, and is even more isolating for those who live in with the burden and fear of sexual violence. With resources and support for healing hard to come by, just a few words of encouragement and solidarity can go a long way.

The Curvature blog posted a response from Rafael, a victim of multiple assaults by state corrections officers, who received a card last year:

Here I was in my cell sitting on my bed on Christmas Eve, sad but hanging in there. My thoughts were on my mom who passed on in 2004, and thinking ‘man, this is my 24th Christmas behind bars.’ Then at about 4 pm the officer gave me some mail from JDI. I was surprised because I don’t get much mail. Being incarcerated for so long, friends and family have forgotten me or passed on. When I read the holiday cards my heart skipped a beat and I started to cry. Yes, this 46-year old hard-core convict was crying. The kind words of encouragement, blessing, and letting me know that I’m not forgotten from total strangers from far away shattered my emotions. Please let them all know that I love them all and will cherish their words in my heart. And yes, I will walk with my head up high and will share my story with no shame and will help others that find themselves in similar situations.

If you’d like to participate, enter your message here, and a JDI volunteer will handwrite it onto a holiday card for a survivor. You can view some simple yet beautiful sample messages here.

We’re ending the day as often as possible by celebrating love. We welcome your ideas for posts. Send suggestions to submissions@colorlines.com, and be sure to put Celebrate Love in the subject line. You can send links to videos, graphics, photos, quotes, whatever. Or just chime in to the comments below and we’ll find you. Be sure to let us know you’ve got the rights to share any media you send.

To see other Love posts visit our Celebrate Love page.

Read this online at http://colorlines.com/archives/2011/12/this_holiday_season_send_some_love_through_prison_walls.html


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