STAR promoting connection with toy drive

Published 1:49 am Sunday, December 5, 2021

STAR Community Justice Center has kicked off Twelve Days of Kindness on the center’s Facebook Page to help its residents connect with their children over the holidays.

“In 2018 and 2019, our residents’ children toured the facility for cookie decorating and holiday photos. But COVID-19 shut it down last year, so we opted for a toy drive so our residents would be able to ‘shop’ for toys,” said Sara Emerick, program specialist at STAR Community Justice Center.

Residents will be featured in different promotions, including caroling, TikTok dances and more. Emerick said that every day, new gift suggestions will be featured. Follow along with the Twelve Days of Kindness at

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They also got creative to keep the family connections open.

“We also do book recordings,” Emerick said. “We record the residents reading the book and we send the recording and the book home before Christmas Eve, trying to keep that connection there. Incarceration creates a lot of distance, especially with COVID-19.”

The center has also set up collection sites for toy donations across the center’s service area, including Holiday Inn and Marriott in Ironton.

They are looking for toys for children of all ages, infants to 18. The center hopes to get enough for 400 children. Once the toys are collected, the residents can “shop” for Christmas presents.

Emerick said what she liked most about it is that, “for our residents, they like being able to give their kids a gift. But it’s the dignity of still being able to be present in some capacity, be able to say, ‘I know this is the gift my kid would like the most,’ and have a part in it.”

Another important aspect is that the residents can use the holiday time for reflection.

“Last year, for example, we had a resident who was just reflecting on the experience of being able to wrap a gift after being incarcerated for several years,” she said. “Just being able to sit on carpet and be able to wrap a gift – it’s just giving them an opportunity to do something to be with their kids during the holidays.”

Donations will be accepted until Dec. 13 and can be taken to Holiday Inn or Marriott in Ironton, or delivered directly to STAR Community Justice Center, Attention Sara Emerick, 4696 Gallia Pike, Franklin Furnace, Ohio 45629.