The following article appeared in the Altoona (PA) Mirror. Kurt Miller is pastor of the Martinsburg church. To see the original article, click here.
Inmates help church project
Kids’ bikes assembled
December 17, 2010 – By Wendy Zook
Being able to help with the church’s Wheels of Joy outreach project, Korcan said, is “a real blessing.”
“Thinking of the children on Christmas morning that we helped, it’ll bring a smile to our faces Christmas morning,” Korcan said.
“We’re happy for the children. My personal joy is going to be on Christmas morning. It’s something that you can’t do anything but smile about.”
Korcan was among the nine low-level, out-custody, nonviolent offenders who are nearing the end of their prison sentences at the Federal Correctional Institution at Loretto picked up by church members Thursday morning to spend several hours assembling 38 bicycles that will go to needy Spring Cove School District families this holiday.
In addition to the bicycles, 44 area families, including 88 children, will receive everything from diapers and household items to clothing, food and gift cards.
Bibles also will be given to the families along with information on the church’s programs and services.
The project began with the church’s cycling group discussing the need for children’s bicycles to be donated and grew from there, parishioner Jason Butler said.
“It kind of exploded into ‘we ought to try to meet a lot of the needs,'” Butler said. “We’re trying to meet the actual needs of the family.”
This giving likely won’t end at Christmas, Butler’s wife, Jennifer, said.
“Ultimately, we hope to follow up with them throughout the year,” she said. “The church does a good job of being there for them.”
Most of the items were donated by the church’s 500 or so attendees, fellow parishioner Chris Brooks said.
Last year, the church took the bikes to the prison for assembly but decided to have the inmates do the assembling on site this year.
“A lot of the guys have kids and families,” Brooks said as the inmates pulled bicycle parts out of boxes and worked on the assembly. “It really touches them. I think it gives them some hope. We’re trying to show these guys love.”
Inmate Michael McNamee was touched when Korcan told him a story about helping kids on the street in the past and how much even a pair of shoes meant to the youngsters.
“I know of the joy of making a kid happy,” the father of five said. “It’s really good.”
“It’s a really good opportunity,” inmate Floyd Johnson said.
Korcan said the prison inmates raised between $200 and $500 from their commissary accounts to use toward the gifts.
“Next year, I think we can get a whole lot more money for them,” he said with a smile before returning to work. “This is a wonderful program. It’s incredible.”
Gifts will be delivered starting on Sunday. Requests from needy families are still being accepted.