Nova Scotia

Big Brothers Big Sisters get Christmas gifts from New Glasgow prison

Several kids in Pictou County will have some extra gifts to unwrap this Christmas thanks to inmates at a correctional facility in New Glasgow.

15 gifts included video games, Lego and even merchandise from the Disney movie Frozen

Inmates at Northeast Nova Scotia Correctional Facility, which opened a year ago, supported a gift-giving drive led by offenders for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pictou County. (Submitted by Hannah Cavicchi-Burrows)

Several kids in Pictou County will have some extra gifts to unwrap this Christmas thanks to inmates at a correctional facility in New Glasgow.

Hannah Cavicchi-Burrows, a social worker at the Northeast Nova Scotia Correctional Facility, says she was "super excited" when a group of inmates pitched the idea of a Christmas gift drive to staff.

The drive was open to everyone at the facility. Inmates who contributed had donations debited from their prison accounts which, as Cavicchi-Burrows points out, aren't typically flush with cash. The goal was to raise $300, but $734 was raised.

Facility staff shopped and brought back 15 gifts — including video games, Lego and even merchandise from the Disney movie Frozen. They've been delivered to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Pictou County who will distribute them among families who provided them wish lists.

'They still have a heart'

The executive director of that branch, Margie Grant-Walsh, says they couldn't have been happier with the effort.

"I think most of the people out there, when it comes to particularly this time of the year, they're very giving and compassionate and care about others," Grant-Walsh said.

"Despite the circumstances [the inmates] are involved in, they still have a heart and they still enjoy the Christmas holidays. And it's tough for people being in a facility over the holidays separated from their families."

Cavicchi-Burrows says she believes efforts made by inmates come from knowing what an extra gift at Christmas time can mean for some.

"When we were all participating and wrapping gifts, it was just wonderful to see folks wanting to give back to the community. And often times we have folks here who may have not had the best childhood or some challenges growing up as well," she said.

Cavicchi-Burrows runs an art group at the facility, she says, for which some of the inmates have also created holiday cards for the Valley View Villa, a seniors home in Stellarton, N.S.

Some of the cards made by inmates in Cavicchi-Burrows's art class. (Submitted by Hannah Cavicchi-Burrows)

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