On April 30, CLU students worked together to make stay-in-touch packets for the nonprofit organization Get On The Bus.
The program buses children and their caregivers to visit their mothers and fathers in prison for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
California Lutheran University’s Community Service Center organized the event to put together stay-in-touch packets for the kids once they leave the prison after visiting. The packets include a note pad, pens and pencils, stamps and envelopes, stickers and a letter of inspiration from the student who put the packet together.
Bus coordinator and Get On The Bus representative Michelle Garcia spoke about the program and her time as an inmate. She said that although she never used the program while she was in prison, she saw the effect it had on the inmates.
According to Garcia, only inmates with good behavior were allowed to participate in the program.
“It gives incentive for the inmate to kind of get their act together and keep it together,” she said.
Garcia said that not everyone can see their children as much as she did while in prison. Get On The Bus provides the rare opportunity to connect children with their parents and reminds the inmates what is waiting for them after their sentence.
“It gives them a goal to get out,” said Garcia.
Community Service Center Intern Lynzi Tarango set up the event with Get On The Bus. Tarango said she thinks it’s a wonderful program that works toward connecting kids when they feel disconnected or alone.
“I think it’s a great way to give back and a way we can impact kids and families at a time when they could really use some additional support,” she said.
Tarango said that even though it may not seem like much to make the stay-in-touch packets, it means the world to a child who just said goodbye to his or her mother or father.
“I hope that students who participate recognize that small actions can have big meaning and big impact,” said Tarango.
Sophomore Kelsey Littleworth heard about the event through Facebook. She didn’t know much about the program, but still wanted to help out.
“I’m happy that I decided to come to this program,” said Littleworth. “It sounds really cool and beneficial to the kids.”
Sophomore Carlos Moran also heard about the program through Facebook. He hopes that more people will volunteer for Get On The Bus and that the program can expand to other states.
“The more help we have, I believe the more the program could run efficiently,” said Moran. “It’s a really wonderful program to help kids that don’t really have what other kids have, that are different than everybody else.”
The program tries to make the kids feel like they are not alone, but it also works toward making the parents feel important.
Garcia said that people tend to forget that even though these people are inmates, they are still parents.
“[Get on the Bus] still makes the mom feel like she’s mom, she’s special,” said Garcia.
Published May 8, 2013