PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The Portsmouth Sheriff’s Office hosted a different kind of Christmas party Wednesday — one for incarcerated men and their families.
The event was held in partnership between the M.A.N. Foundation and the Portsmouth Sheriff’s Office.
From the food to the toys and even a special visit from the big man himself, it was a heartfelt reunion for five Portsmouth families.
“A lot of times, the child’s Christmas wish is for the father to be home for the holidays and since we can’t get him home, we’re getting them a piece of their Christmas wish by having them come here tonight to celebrate with them,” said Dr. Jaclyn Walker.
Walker created the ‘Men Alleviating Negativity’ or M.A.N. foundation. The organization helps those in jail or prison build positive relationships with their loved ones as they complete their sentence. This is the third year the annual Santa’s workshop event has taken place.
“The key to stopping or decreasing the rate of recidivism is family time and the connection. When we’re able to bring the families together, they can readjust so much better when they are released from jail or prison,” Walker explained.
Children got to see Santa, pick presents from his workshop, play games and eat a hot meal — all with their fathers who otherwise wouldn’t get to see them on Christmas.
“You guys are important to your families,” said Portsmouth Mayor Shannon Glover.
In addition to putting on family events, the M.A.N. Foundation also hosts vision board classes, provides resources for children of incarcerated parents and training on how those who are incarcerated can readjust to society after their release.
“This is the essential key to ensuring that when people are released from jail, they’re able to become a productive citizen because that family is that bond that holds them together,” Walker said.