This holiday season, some of Whitehorse’s youngest residents will be swaddled in Christmas stockings or adorned with tiny elf hats, thanks to the handiwork of some of the inmates at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre.
This year, the inmates delivered 35 bunting bags in the shape of Christmas stockings to the Whitehorse General Hospital, to be given out to all the new December babies.
They also crocheted eight elf hats and five Santa hats for the little ones at the Teen Parent Centre.
Shannon Skookum, whose son Colton received one of the elf hats, said she was “very thankful” for the gift.
“We don’t have a lot of money, so anything is good for him.”
She said Colton, who’s about one and a half, also seems to like the hat.
“He wears it,” she said. “He doesn’t wear most other things on his head.”
This is the third year that inmates have taken on these Christmas projects, said Valerie Mosser, deputy superintendent of programs at the correctional centre. She said the projects help people to feel that they’re giving back.
“At times when you’re here at WCC, it may seem like you’re not a part of the community. This is like tying back to the community. And there’s a need for it.”
Mosser said the inmates make the bunting bags for the hospital every year. This year, one man sewed up the stockings, while four women designed fleece decals – snowmen and candy canes – for decoration.
But the little hats were a new idea this winter. “Every year we try to add one more contribution to someone,” Mosser explained.
She said the inmates get “a great sense of pride” from the projects.
Katherine Heinbigner, teacher director at the Teen Parent Centre, said the donations were a “win-win” for everyone.
“It’s really very generous and very kind,” she said. “(The parents) thought they were just great. They were so pleased.”
The centre currently has 13 students who are working toward high school graduation. It also offers a daycare for their children, who are all under the age of three.
Heinbigner said she plans to send photos of the babies wearing their hats to the correctional centre, so the artists can see how their work paid off.
But the hats and bunting bags aren’t the only contributions the inmates made this holiday season – they’re just the cutest ones.
The inmates also decided to donate $500 to buy dog food for the Many Rivers Outreach Van and supplies for the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter.
Mosser said the funds came from the money inmates spend at the canteen and the fees they pay to use the jail’s phone system.
With the $500, they bought everything on the animal shelter’s wish list, including rawhide, doggie bags, rubber gloves and laundry detergent.
They also assembled 400 brown paper bags, each containing two cups of dog food, for the Many Rivers Outreach Van.
Outreach Van coordinator Meg Grudeski said the van often gives out pet food, along with snacks and water for its clients.
“We have quite a lot of clients who have pets,” she said. “Everybody is going to share their bit of food with their pooch.”
In fact, she said, the inmates donated so much pet food that she had to pass on the excess to the animal shelter.
But she said all the food will get used, and she appreciated the donation.
“We try to partner with them as frequently as we can. They like to be able to give back.”
Contact Maura Forrest at