For nearly 50 years, the Rock County Jail Chaplaincy has been helping provide gifts for children.
Rock County Jail Chaplaincy is accepting toys and monetary gifts until Nov. 28 for its annual gift drive for the children of Rock County Jail inmates. The gifts then will be wrapped and delivered to children or grandchildren of parents who are incarcerated.
Julaine Williams, Coordinating Chaplain at Rock County Jail Chaplaincy, has been running the holiday gift drive for three years.
Checks can be made out to Rock County Jail Chaplaincy, 706 Glen St., Janesville, WI 53545.
“We use the donated funds to purchase gifts and gift cards for the children and grandchildren,” Williams said.
Gifts can be dropped off at the chaplaincy. William asks to be contacted at 608-921-1521 to arrange present drop-offs or she can pick them up from donors.
“We recommend presents to be aimed at ages from birth to 12 years old and to be for both genders,” Williams said. “For teenagers we recommend donating gift cards.”
Donation boxes can be arranged by contacting Williams at local churches or places of business.
The presents that are bought through donated funds or provided are wrapped by volunteers.
“We would prefer if the gifts were not pre-wrapped,” Williams said. “The children will receive the presents that will include a tag that says it is from their parent, who is incarcerated. We are giving the children presents on behalf of their parents.”
Volunteers with the chaplaincy wrap all the presents on Nov. 29. The gifts then will be delivered to the inmates’ families in the county.
The numbers of presents the chaplaincy has been able to donate has been affected by the pandemic.
“In the past couple years we have been donating 400 gifts a year,” Williams said. “Three years ago we helped provide 600 presents per year. I have not got the list yet for this year.”
The pandemic affected the number of people incarcerated and this year numbers could have potentially risen.
Before Williams took over, Iris Guelker was in charge of the program for more than 45 years. Guelker passed away on Dec. 16, 2019 and Williams has been trying to continue her legacy.
“The first year I took over was the start of the pandemic,” Williams said. “I was very thankful with the help of volunteers and the community that we were still able to provide gifts to the children.”
Williams was trained by Guelker previously and worked with the gift drive before taking over.
“We have had a good amount of volunteers every year to help out in the drive,” Williams said. “I am thankful that we have had them return again this year for the upcoming drive.”