The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Forrest Hershberger
Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

Cancer Patients, Supporters Benefit from Prison Knitting Program


August 15, 2018

Forrest Hershberger

From left, Bev Sontag, Dana Revell, Samuel Revell, Audrey Revell, Evelyn Revell, Peter (cancer survivor) and Jackie Carley.

For many, the word inmate conjures images of social outcasts, men who for one reason or another never will fit in society. A group of inmates at Sterling Correctional Facility are working to change that perception, and donate to worthy causes, including Night of Hope.

Bev Sontag hosted a table at the Night Of Hope offering crochet hats to cancer patients. The hats were an assortment of colors and styles; a "Minion" style, butterflies and stocking caps with animal head designs. They are also the hand-crafted efforts of inmates who have taken up the hobby.

Sontag is connected with Sterling Correctional Facility through outreach programs she volunteers with. She said she and her husband are part of a Bible study at the prison, and are involved in the KAIROS Prison Ministry. KAIROS Prison Ministry is an interdenominational Christian ministry led by laymen with volunteer men and women offering Christ's love and forgiveness to inmates and their families, according to the Kairos Prison Ministry International website.

The crochet project started as another activity that can be done nearly anywhere in the prison from the cell to the yard. Sometimes when the prison is short of staff, inmates are locked in their cells or units. Crochet is an activity that can be done in an inmate's cell during a lockdown. Sontag said the inmates knew about Night Of Hope and wanted to support it.

"Inmates knew of Night of Hope," she said. "They wanted to donate. They didn't want them sold."

She said part of the motivation from the inmates is there are inmates who are trying to change.

She said the crocheting inmates want people to know "We're not all still bad people."

Inmates donated 48 stocking caps in addition to six pair of kids mittens.

In 2009, 35 SCF inmate crocheters completed 234 baby blankets for Logan County (Colorado) Baby Bear Hugs' baby blanket program. The effort used $3,500 in donated yarn. No state funds were used for the program. The inmates recorded 5,800 crochet hours in hooking the baby blankets.

Sontag said the crocheting inmates are already focused on next year's Night Of Hope.

"They're working on it," she said.

Sontag is accepting donations for the SCF crochet program. To donate, contact Sontag at the Cheyenne County Community Center, 254-7000, or at home: 249-4036.


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