April 16, 2010

International Charity Gets Surprise Gift From Women's Prison Group

A few weeks ago, Cary Kimble stumbled upon an unusual envelope while opening mail at the international-medical charity where he works as director of development.

The envelope contained no letter -- just a check for $15,000 made out to the Haiti relief efforts of Mr. Kimble's charity, Project Hope.

After a little research, staff members at Project Hope, in Millwood, Va., learned that the donation had been given by a group of women at an Ohio prison, known as the "Life group," who are serving terms of 15 years to life.

The group of roughly 130 women earns money by selling photographs of inmates with their family members when they come for visits. The photographs, which they sell for $3 to $5, earn them about $6,000 each month.

Ginine Trim, warden at the Ohio Reformatory for Women, says the inmates saw and read news reports about the earthquake in Haiti and wanted to help. Staff members at the prison used the prison library to do research on which charities were providing aid, and the women then voted to make the gift to Project Hope.

"Nobody solicited these women," says Ms. Trim. "This was something they felt was important and a way they could give back. What I really appreciate about these particular women is they make a point to always look for ways they can serve groups or folks less fortunate."

Ms. Trim says the "Life group," which has a mission of doing positive things for others, gives several gifts a year, though they're generally smaller than the donation for Haiti relief.