Members of the Free on the Inside Ministries were preparing to make a regular Thursday evening for the more than 600 inmates a special event.
In hopes of bringing the joy of Christmastime and the love of Jesus Christ throughout the cellblocks, volunteers descended on the jail to distribute containers of fresh baked cookies, cakes and candies.
“It’s a humbling experience,” said Gary Diggs, assistant chaplain for the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office.
Diggs has been helping with the ministry for eight years and served as an employee of the jail for six years beginning in 2004. He is now the pastor at Cross Pointe Community Church in Aragon.
Diggs was busy helping get things together before each cart and group were sent to each of the different cell blocks.
Along with holiday goodies, each inmate also received socks and Christmas cards that were already stamped so they could address them to friends and family.
When they get all of the Christmas cards back from the inmates, they are split up among the members of the ministry to make sure they are mailed properly.
Douglas Diruggiero, a volunteer with the ministry and a member of West Rome Baptist Church, said that getting the 40 to 50 Christmas cards to take home is an event in his house.
“My kids love it every year,” Diruggiero said. “They always ask when the Christmas cards will come in so they can help and then we pray over them before we send them out.”
Diruggiero agreed with Diggs that providing the items to the inmates reminds them of how we are all God’s people and should help one another.
“We are all only one or two bad decisions away from being in the same situation as they are and we would want someone to remember us at this time of year as well,” he said.
A number of local churches are represented in the ministry, including Trinity United Methodist Church, North Rome Church of God, South Broad Baptist Church, First Presbyterian Church of Rome and The Church at Northside.
All of the things delivered to the inmates Thursday evening were donated. A number of businesses, like Walker Orthodontics and Honeymoon Bakery, were a big help.
Maj. Bob Sapp with the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office said he knows that the inmates get a lot out of the service the ministry provides.
“Even though a lot of them have been in here for many months we want them to still feel like people and not like lost souls,” Sapp said. “All of the prisoners are blessed because of the work that this group does.”
The Rev. David Thornton, who is the senior chaplain for the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office, said the ministry recently conducted a revival at the jail, resulting in 213 inmates getting saved or rededicating their lives to Jesus Christ.
“We try to minister to them year round and show that, even those these people have done wrong and are paying for their crimes, we need to show compassion,” Thornton said.