Holiday Card Drive 2022: how to get involved

Kia ora penpals and supporters!

This year, we’re holding our sixth annual Holiday Card Drive! We’ll be sending holiday cards to hundreds of incarcerated people all across Aotearoa. Christmas can be a very dark time in prison, and receiving a holiday card can make a world of difference.

As a community-led, volunteer-run organisation, we rely on the support of ordinary people to get this important mahi done. We don’t have big donors or government grants, but we do have the support of our incredible community.

We expect to send around 2,500 cards to 500 people in prison this year, with our projected running costs for 2022 looking to be around $6,000. Producing and posting cards to this many people costs a lot of money, so we rely on your support to ensure that these costs are covered. We will also be supporting the efforts of community coordinators all around the motu with financial assistance for venue hire and kai.

Every dollar counts, so please help us to run this important project.


Thanks from last year’s recipients

Every year we receive thank you messages from the recipients of our holiday cards, which clearly show how much of an impact the Holiday Card Drive has on incarcerated people who otherwise may not hear from anyone over Christmas. Here are some of the messages we received after last year’s drive:

I would like to send a massive thanks in regards to an envelope I got today with Christmas cards from the public and a nice letter from the PCN team. This was a nice surprise and super thoughtful and as being in prison at this time of year and not being at home with family it’s nice to get cards and letters as I texting and calling for granted on the outside. It took for me to become incarcerated to realise how much we take things for granted and how a simple letter can mean so much and lighten up someone’s day as this has for me =).

Kurt

Thank you for your thoughtful cards. They arrived on a bad day for me. Christmas is always depressing for me. I’ve seen 21 of them in here. I don’t suppose my family will send cards. They seem to have forgotten me at last. My ex-wife (remarried) likes to write. I had made up my mind to not write to her anymore but I wimped out. I miss my grandchildren (and great grandchildren). I’m 74. Two of my siblings have died. A sister is probably dying now of M.N.D. Your efforts to find me correspondents is much appreciated. Snail mail is my only link to the outside world now.

John

As Christmas is fast approaching I thought I would take this chance to wish everyone at the PCN a merry Christmas and a happy new year.
I have spent 17 months in custody so far and thanks to the pen pal network I have really come a long way in confidence, humility, as well as maintaining positive thinking and finding happiness in negative spaces.
Christmas is such a hard time to be in prison. Even more so when I am innocent of the crimes I’m accused of. Thank you for helping the men in prison who don’t have any family support networks.

Joshy

It’s Ben here. I would just like to thank everyone who sent me a card for Christmas.
For years my cell has been bland, dull and depressing. Until today. I received some cards that brightened my cell and life up. So thanks to all who sent me an xmas card, Etta, Holly, Henri, Bronwen and John and one with no name (tui on). Thank you all for being a light in a very dark tunnel. It’s nice to know someone still cares. I hope all your dreams and wishes come true next year. Best wishes and happy xmas and new year.
Ben
P.S Thanks to PCN for making me feel human again! Xxxooo

Ben

I would personally like to thank each and every one of you for what you do for every inmate that you help. Without people such as yourselves many of us would really struggle to make connections with people again. The ability that you have to help with making those connections enables many of us to then receive perspectives from such a wide variety of people. Many of whom some of us might just walk past in the street and never bat an eyelid at. It helps knowing that when we develop those friendships through writing, that the person receiving the letters is not judging us for what we have done. They are actually wanting to help us. Helping us to trust in people again.

Shane


You’re also welcome to write holiday cards to people in prison. If you would like to send cards, please post them to PO Box 5870, Victoria St West, Auckland 1142 before 1st December 2022. A list of names to address cards to will be available upon request in mid-November, but you can also address them vaguely (e.g. Kia ora e hoa ma, Dear friend, etc) so they can be sent to anyone.

IMPORTANT NOTE: We are unable to accept cards that have been glued together as some prisons refuse to hand on cards that have things glued to them. So if you make homemade cards, by all means make something incredible and creative, but just don’t stick anything to them!


Card-making events

This year, we will be holding four official card-writing events, as well as a number of community-led working bees all around the motu. These working bees will be an opportunity for people to come together, write holiday cards, kōrero and learn more about the negative impacts of prison, and meet other cool folks in their communities. Here’s the details:

Auckland

Sunday 4 December, Old Folks’ Association, 8 Gundry St, Auckland CBD, 10AM to 4PM

Wellington

Saturday 26 November, Newtown Community Centre, Level 2, 2A Green St, 11AM to 3PM

Christchurch

Sunday 27 November, Riccarton Community Centre, 199 Clarence St, 10:30AM to 3PM

Dunedin

Saturday 26 November, Otago Women’s Pioneer Hall, 362 Moray Place, 1PM to 3PM

Community events


We’re also inviting people to nominate their friends and whānau in New Zealand prisons to receive cards. If you know someone inside and you think they would appreciate some season’s greetings, please fill out this form and we will add them to our list of people to receive cards:


PCN is run and funded by People Against Prisons Aotearoa (PAPA). Funds raised for PCN will be held by PAPA and will only be used for PCN purposes.

Christmas card drive 2016: feedback

Thank you again to everyone who participated in the Christmas card drive for prisoners last year! We’re starting to get some thank you letters in and people really appreciated their cards. Here’s a thank you from one prisoner:

To the team at the Prisoner Correspondence Network. Being an openly out Gay Man I found prison life to be a little daunting, depressing and a little bit of a scary place to be but worst of all I felt alone. But since making contact with you guys at PCN you have given me the support and strength to become a stronger person and to be proud of who I am and stand tall with my head held high and thank you soo much for help. Also I thank you for introducing me to the penpals that have been writing to me, I truly believe through you I have made some great friends for life. Thank you to everyone who sent me christmas cards that meant so much to me. Wishing you the best for 2017. With love JL.

Here’s a second thank you letter:

I just want to say a huge THANK YOU for all the wonderful xmas cards I received today. It’s made a very tough and upsetting week a little brighter! I loved the handmade ones, they are all talented and amazing. Could you please thank all the people for me? I never knew people cared that much. It’s made my xmas a little bit brighter.
Thank you again, from LD

And a third!

To PCN
Today I received a bunch of christmas cards from you guys
OMG!!
Thank you so so much it made my day. You guys are the best.

Thanks

You’ve really helped us make Christmas special for our penpals on the inside. Have a big THANK YOU from us as well!

A milestone!

So far we’ve sent and received over 100 letters through the Prisoner Correspondence Network! Thanks to everyone who has signed up to the pen pal mailing list and/or volunteered to help. Every bit of support goes a long way. Onward and upward from here!

To sign up message us here or email pcnaotearoa@gmail.com.