“It is amazing what one ray of sunshine can do for a man [or woman]!” ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Every day at mail call, they wait to hear their name and hope that someone has remembered them. For many men and women in prison, their name is never called. Birthdays come and go just like any other day. Christmas, and especially Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can be days of loneliness and despair to someone who has lost all contact with their loved ones.
Click below to watch a video from some of the ladies who were recipients of cards from the Sunshine Club at Christmas, Mother’s Day, and their birthdays while they were in prison. In the video, they share what it felt like to receive the cards and their thanks to all who brightened their days.
You can bring a ray of sunshine into the lives of the forgotten ones. And it’s so easy! The Sunshine Club is a group of individuals who send cards each month to inmates who have signed up with various Prison Ministry Teams to receive birthday and holiday cards. You can use your church’s address or the Sunshine Club address of PO Box 1872, Litchfield Park, AZ 85340 as your return address. Your anonymity is protected! If you use the PO Box as your return address, please let Deacon Kim know so that replies can be scanned and emailed to you. And you can send cards as often and to as many inmates as you wish. For just a little of your time and money (all you need is a piece of paper and a stamp!), you can participate in this wonderfully, enriching personal ministry. We have created a Suggestions for Card Writing guide to help you get started! And now, emails are allowed! See our new Guidelines for creating an E-Messaging account.
A monthly birthday list will be posted on this site for you to download or you can request that the list be emailed to you by contacting Deacon Kim Crecca at firstname.lastname@example.org. The addresses are set up so that you can either print them and cut them out to tape to envelopes or print them directly on labels (30 labels/sheet).
The initial Christmas List is posted below. An addendum will be posted in early December with the names of those who have been added since the initial list was created. Please note that although we try very hard to update the entire list before publishing it, there will be some women who are released ahead of schedule resulting in a return of their Christmas cards to the senders. We apologize for this but hope you will rejoice with us that these women have gained the gift of freedom.
Please note that we are now including birthdays from the co-ed prison located in Douglas, AZ.
Here are the rules:
1. Use only your first name to sign the cards.
2. For your return address you can use your church’s address and indicate “Prison Ministry” after the church name. Any replies from inmates who receive your cards will then be sent to your church office where you can collect them. If you do not wish to use your church’s address or your own personal address, you are welcome to use the PO Box for the Sunshine Club as a return address:
(Your first name and last initial) c/o Sunshine Club
PO Box 1872
Litchfield Park, AZ 85340
Replies sent to the Sunshine Club PO Box will be scanned and forwarded via email if possible; so if you want to receive the replies to your cards, please contact Deacon Kim Crecca at email@example.com and provide your full name and email address. Your information will be kept confidential and is not shared with the inmates.
3. DO NOT use stickers or glitter in your cards or on the envelopes (basically, if you can remove it, you can’t use it). Return address labels are okay to use.
4. You CANNOT send paper or postage stamps, those are considered contraband and your mail will be returned.
5. We encourage you not to send money to inmates. The Sunshine Club’s purpose is for spiritual support, not financial support.
That’s it! You can make your own cards using crayons, paints, and inked stamps. You can also send postcards to save on postage costs. You can get really creative, but simple works just as well. Remember, it’s just the fact that you are thinking about them that matters the most.
Sunshine Club E-Messaging Service Available
AZ Department of Corrections has distributed computer “tablets” to inmates. These tablets can be used to receive and send e-messages to penpals. These e-messages are especially precious now while visitation and volunteer programs are suspended due to COVID-19. Isolation is always difficult but even harder to handle in a prison. Your notes of encouragement and connection with the “outside” can be a lifeline for these individuals.
This new platform provides a less expensive option for communicating with incarcerated individuals and a faster turnaround. E-Messages cost 25 cents to send and are usually received the same day they are sent. You also have the option to attach an e-card to your message for an additional 25 cents and can choose to pay for a reply from the inmate.
We have put together a simple “how to” set of instructions for creating an e-messaging account on the Securus platform that the Dept. of Corrections uses. Click here to download/view the PDF version of these Guidelines. If you have any issues regarding following these instructions, please contact Deacon Kim Crecca at firstname.lastname@example.org