St. Barnabas Church Root Beer Float fundraiser supports families at Christmas

Christmas comes to children of incarcerated parents every year with your help. You and sponsors like you who donate gifts and funds to make it happen. Both the families and the incarcerated parents themselves are deeply grateful for the opportunity that the ChIPs program affords them.

ChIPs is a program sponsored each year by the Episcopal Church of New Hampshire. The prisons count the number of gifts needed for each age and gender group.

Volunteers collect gift donations, and use monetary donations to supplement the gifts provided. Once the presents are sorted, they're brought to the prisons, and the inmates get the chance to choose one gift for each child on their list. Usually the inmate is a parent, sometimes a grandparent, sometimes even a big brother or sister.

Children of prison inmates can live lonely lives. It's easy to believe that a parent you never see just doesn't care. Inmates also find themselves feeling isolated and abandoned, unable to provide for or to be a part of their families. Being able to offer their children a gift at the Christmas visit gives the inmates an opportunity for connection, for a sliver of normalcy in their family relations.

Studies have shown that parolees are significantly more likely to integrate back into society if they are able to maintain relationships with their families. The ChIPs program creates positive experiences on which to build a foundation for those relationships.

Gifts are distributed at the Men's Prison in Concord, the Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility in Berlin and the Women’s Prison in Goffstown. Once the gifts are chosen, volunteers wrap them and the prisons then throw a party! The family visits, and the inmates are able to give presents to their children. The ChIPs program also includes an age-appropriate book to go with each gift, helping to promote literacy within this sometimes underprivileged population.

St. Barnabas Episcopal Church is located on the corner of High and Main Streets in Berlin. Children, parents, adults and friends of St. Barnabas will be holding the second annual “Root Beer Float” Fundraiser to raise money for this important work. They have added hot apple crisp to the menu this year. Watch the for “larger-than-life” Root Beer Float sign in front of the church on Main Street this Saturday, Oct. 7 from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Curbside take-out service is available for cars and ATVs. Enjoy a delicious treat while serving others. Monetary donations are also accepted. Checks can be made out to Diocese of New Hampshire with ChIPS written on the memo line of the check.

We hope to see you on Saturday, Oct. 7, from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.