What better way to fill idle time on your hands than to put them to use with some good old fashioned needlework.
It was all smiles at the South Idaho Correctional Institution's Parole Release Center Thursday morning.
A group of nearly 30 inmates felt a sense of accomplishment after spending the last couple of weeks crocheting blankets, hats and even papooses for baby orphans.
"Now we're able to give back," said Marleana Fagerland, one of the PRC inmates with ties to Caldwell. "It's a pretty big deal because these babies don't have parents, and they're over in Israel."
A longtime, religious volunteer representing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Blue Meadows ward in Boise came up with the idea when she heard about the need for blankets. At about the same time, Barbara Freeman happened to have seen some of the ladies' needlework after one of the worship services on a Sunday afternoon. She thought it would be the perfect pairing.
The opportunity to have the inmates in the program that's meant to teach them new ways to be productive with their time was ideal. Some could learn a new skill, and all of them could have the chance to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
"When you're using substances a lot, you're basically isolating yourself," said Ashley Feland, a Coeur d'Alene native. "And so, all of us coming together was probably the first time in a long, long time that any of us have done anything in a large group or even gone to others for help."
"They were doing it together," Freeman said. "So, there was [a sense of] community and togetherness and peace and love."
With every turn and twist of the yarn, the project also turned into a lesson of how unity is within everyone's reach. It's also a skill that can easily be passed on.
"Before my program is over, I plan to make at least one blanket for my daughter and a blanket for my little brother," said Emeline Crozier, a newcomer to crocheting.
In a couple of weeks, the crocheted items will be hand-delivered by Americans associated with a group called the Roman Catholic Diocese Pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The blankets and hats will specifically comfort Jewish and Palestinian orphans.