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'It just overwhelmed me with love' | Effort picks up to send Christmas cards to every inmate, staff member in Ohio prisons

So far this year, "Cards from Christ" has collected 90,000 cards.

MARYSVILLE, Ohio — While the holidays are often synonymous with cheer, the season can be hard and lonely for many, especially those living behind bars. 

But this year, strangers across the country are helping ensure that each inmate and staff member in all of Ohio's prisons, will receive a Christmas card this holiday season.

Kent Money has been doing prison ministry work for the past 25 years. Four years ago, he gave Christmas cards to all 30 inmates in one of his programs.

After seeing the impact it had on all the men in there, he knew he could turn the effort into something even bigger.

The next year, they did 2,700 cards in the prison. The next year, they did everybody in the system -- all 50,000 men," Money said. "And now this year, our goal was 70,000. Because of COVID-19, we wanted to include staff. But instead, we've collected 90,000 cards so far."

Those cards are handwritten and mailed to him from strangers across the country, who heard about what he was doing through Facebook and word of mouth.

Inmates and staff will be receiving those cards this week.

Bowling Green State University graduate, Talmadge Thomas II, was an inmate who said he'll never forget the moment he got his Christmas card while serving time in prison.

"When they brought me a card I was like, 'Who is this from?' I thought it was from someone in my family or something. But I saw everyone getting cards and when I got the card and read it, it just overwhelmed me with love and emotion that I hadn't received in a situation that was so dark," Thomas said.

Christine Money is Kent's wife, who plays a major role in the operation. But as a former warden, she can describe firsthand how strongly the cards can impact an entire institution. 

"It's something that simply just doesn't simply happen. I think kindness can be disarming, and I think that its not expected," she said.

Thomas said for himself and many others when he says, the cards leave an ever-lasting impact.

"The reward of... of impacting someone's life in a way that's more than financial is something, of course, I can't put a dollar on how impactful that card was. I still have my card from three years ago," he said.

Money said he plans to continue mailing Christmas cards to prisons every year.

If you would like to send a card, head over to the "Cards from Christ" Facebook page, by clicking here.

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