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Inmates create gifts, cards for seniors in 'Operation Spread Joy'

About 2,000 items were delivered to residents across the state who aren't allow visitors during the COVID-19 crisis.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Offenders at the S.C. Department of Corrections (SCDC) made cards and gifts for nursing home residents across South Carolina this week as part of an effort to lift spirits during the COVID-19 quarantine.

This initiative was called "Operation Spread the Joy," and was in collaboration between SCDC and the S.C. Department on Aging (SCDOA).

Offenders drew cards, made jewelry, knitted things like caps and footies, stuffed animals, bookmarks, blankets and other comfort items. These items were delivered to nursing home residents across South Carolina on Thursday.

“The offenders embraced this project and showed real creativity in making these cards and other items,” SCDC Director Bryan Stirling said. “We hope these gifts brighten spirits of the nursing home residents during this lonely time.”

About 2,000 items were delivered to residents across the state at a time when visitors aren’t allowed into nursing homes or prisons.

Hundreds of offenders participated in spreading the joy, according to SCDC. 

“For many of our residents in the facilities, these cards and special items may be the only things they receive during this pandemic,” SCDOA Director Connie Munn said. “We are grateful for the partnership with SCDC and their efforts to reach out to spread the joy to our older residents.”

The S.C. Department on Aging was created to enhance the quality of life for seniors in South Carolina, according to SCDC. The agency works with local organizations and a network of regional offices to provide services that help seniors in their communities and operates the state’s Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, which serves as the advocate for more than 45,000 residents in long-term care settings.

“We’re just excited to have the opportunity to give back to the community in this tough time we’re all experiencing together,” said one offender who was making cards at Manning Reentry/Work Release Center. “We know how much it means to get a card or just a small gift and what that means to us to receive something like that. We’re putting a lot of love and care into these items that we’re making and hoping that they’re received with the love that we’re putting into it.”