Whitley Co. Detention Center, other volunteers provide Thanksgiving boxes to inmates’ families, others in need | Local News

WILLIAMSBURG – With the previous night’s frost lingering, the Whitley County Detention Center parking lot was once again turned into a gathering-like drive-through, where the families of those in prison and the needy were provided with grocery boxes and other gifts for the holiday season.

“We have turkey, ham, stuffing / dressing, corn, green beans, mashed potatoes,” said Brian Lawson, Whitley County jailer, on the grocery boxes he and other volunteers were handing out. “And everyone will have a cake,” he added.

Lawson said the group had over 150 turkey and hams to give to families thanks to sponsors and volunteers. Lisa Garrison, a community relations specialist at United Healthcare, said her company wants to get involved because her goal is to make community members happy and healthy. She said United Healthcare helped provide around $ 500 worth of turkey and ham for Saturday’s event.

“I’m out here because everyone matters and the families of those detained deserve a Happy Thanksgiving just like everyone else,” said Garrison, wearing the same matching red t-shirt as the other volunteers on Saturday.

Former Navy and Navy veteran and current internship colonel Andrew Fuson echoed Garrison’s comments as he helped hand out boxes on Saturday morning.

“I see it this way, this is our community here,” he said. “The children of these prisoners go to school with my children.”

Garrison said Lawson’s wife, Ashley Lawson, and a community of women contacted her about the event. As an integral part of planning and organizing the event, Ashley had previously enlisted the help of current Corbin City Commissioner Seth Reeves to sponsor the event. Reeves had helped sponsor a similar giveaway that the Lawsons organized last year and said he saw the events as great opportunities to give back.

“It’s just a great event for the community to help these families who are being incarcerated or just people who are less fortunate than others,” said Reeves, who has already announced his intention, as a Whitley county judge and McCreary to run for office.

“Last year it was kind of a last minute so this year with COVID and especially about a month ago we teamed up and started planning it and figuring out how we could make it bigger and better,” added Reeves.

Lawson said he was extremely grateful and grateful for the other sponsors of the event, including Whitley County Superintendent John Siler, Mike Campbell of Remax, Chair of the Whitley County Board of Education Brenda Hill, Cindy Bowlin, Southern Health Partners, Kellwell Food, Whitley and McCreary County District Judge Cathy Prewitt and Dry County Clothing.

“I just want to thank the people of Whitley County,” Lawson said. “I want to thank the people who came out and all the people who helped and donated to get this off the ground and make it possible.”

The event was also supported by Linda Davis, Stephanie Kingsley and Angelika Weaver, who provided coloring books and other educational activities in gift bags to families. Lawson said he and Ashley also collected some old toys to donate in the gift bags.

“We wanted to make sure that children had something to eat too,” he said. “Because when you get a grocery box, the kids don’t always understand the value of it.”

Lawson said he and his family have always tried to give back to the community. He said they had a history of sponsoring and hosting a community dinner at Whitley County High School that was started by his brother, then headmaster Bob Lawson.

After COVID canceled dinner last year, Lawson said he and his family started thinking about other ways to give back to the community and the idea for the freebies was born. Since then, Lawson, volunteers, and prison staff have given away backpacks, toys, groceries, and other items to families in Whitley County in a number of giveaways.

And while providing families with a warm, nutritious meal to eat on Thanksgiving is an admirable thing, Lawson says it goes above and beyond for him.

“I think if you look around our country and see everything that’s going on, we need more time at the kitchen table,” he said. “We need to sit down as a family again and enjoy this close family time and instill these values ​​in our children and families,” added Lawson. “We have to bring the family part back into our homes.”

As at similar events in the past, Lawson said, helped detainees assemble the boxes and helped with many of the “behind the scenes” things needed to make Saturday’s event happen. While Lawson and the other volunteers interacted with those in the vehicles, inmates Greg Jacobs and Shawn Dople stood in the prison lobby, filling boxes at the request of the participants. Then they handed the boxes to a volunteer who would take them to a vehicle.

“One of the things we appreciate about including inmates in these activities is that they don’t get a lot of credit, but they are behind the scenes assembling these boxes and doing a lot of work to develop and be in those things To be able to “get together,” Lawson said. “They feel like they are giving back, it gives them a sense of self-worth,” he added from what volunteer inmates had told him. “I just think that’s a great thing for her.”