From left, Cathedral High School students Kimble Devening, Taylor Beesley, girls basketball assistant coach Ricky Gray, Akua Kumi and girls head basketball coach Randy Smith help wrap gift bags for inmates at Wilkinson County Correctional Facility. Smith got involved with the prison through a ministry in which he’s involved. (Michael Kerekes \ The Natchez Democrat)

Cathedral girls help with prison gifts

Published 12:01am Tuesday, December 18, 2012

NATCHEZ — Exam week didn’t stop several Cathedral High School girls basketball players from helping spread the Christmas spirit.

And Santa may be keeping track of who’s naughty and nice, but for sophomore forward Akua Kumi, it didn’t really matter.

Seven girls from the Lady Green Wave’s squad, along with soccer player Kimble Devening, gathered in the First Presbyterian Church gymnasium to help head coach Randy Smith wrap goodie bags for inmates at Wilkinson County Correctional Facility. The bags will be handed out to inmates on Christmas day as part of a prison ministry in which Smith is involved.

“I feel like you need to help people in need without judging them,” Kumi said.

Even with semester exams looming, Kumi said she didn’t mind taking time out of her day to help out with several good causes. As a member of the school’s Key Club, Kumi said she helped decorate a local nursing home before joining her teammates at First Presbyterian.

“Putting a little time aside won’t hurt,” Kumi said. “We have time to study at school and at home, but we won’t have another chance to do any other projects like this.”

Smith said his prison ministry, Sportsreach, played softball with some of the prisoners at Wilkinson County Correctional over the summer, and chaplain Amos Speight asked if they would consider giving gifts to the prisoners for Christmas. First Presbyterian helped offset some of the cost.

“It takes quite a bit of effort to get 400 of these together,” Smith said of his gift bags, which include socks, deodorant, shampoo and peppermint.

“This is the third year I’ve done this, and last year I started thinking that I should get the basketball girls involved, because it would help me a lot.”

With Cathedral School requiring community service hours, Smith said wrapping the gift bags would help his players reach meet their requirements.

Devening, a senior, said she was exempt from taking exams, so she wanted to help the basketball team with the extra time she had on her hands.

“Even if you are studying, you’re not going to sit at home and study all night,” she said. “If it’s for something better, you can take a little time out (of your day).”

Getting involved with community service projects also puts Cathedral in a positive light around the community, Devening said.

“(Cathedral wants) you to be involved in the community and helping others,” Devening said. “It helps you grow and makes your school look good, too. People like to see younger kids helping out.”

Though there was no naughty-or-nice list among the Cathedral girls, Smith said a Santa Claus-like standard would determine who actually gets the gift bags.

“They’re awarded to inmates on good behavior,” Smith said.

  • Anonymous

    This is what makes you proud to be American