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Folding Angels helps keep families connected by donating cards to those in the State Penitentiary

Group donates cards to those in State Penitentiary & Ward County Jail

Shyanne Belzer/MDN The Folding Angels work to create a variety of cards from “Happy Birthday” to “Thank You” to “Merry Christmas” and more for those in the North Dakota State Penitentiary and the Ward County Jail. Here are examples of their work, each card made by someone else in the group.

This September the Folding Angels group will be celebrating 10 years of creating and donating cards to the North Dakota State Penitentiary and the Ward County Jail. Last week, the group hit a milestone of 26,000 cards donated in that time.

What started as one person making a batch of 65 cards to be donated in May of 2009 has grown to a group making enough to donate over 500 cards a month.

“We always say we don’t do laundry, we fold cards,” joked Rhonda Schmidt, founder and member of Folding Angels.

The group meets September through May, working to make enough cards for all the important holidays, especially Christmas and Mother’s Day, throughout the year. Since the group only meets so many months out of the year, they also create enough to fill the summer months.

Schmidt started the group after realizing there was a need at the State Penitentiary for cards so that inmates would be able to keep in touch with family. She began donating in 2009 with a group meeting for the first time in September of that year.

Shyanne Belzer/MDN The Folding Angels work to create a variety of cards from “Happy Birthday” to “Thank You” to “Merry Christmas” and more for those in the North Dakota State Penitentiary and the Ward County Jail. Here are examples of their work, each card made by someone else in the group.

Over time they began donating to other places including the Ward County Jail, the Boys and Girls Ranch, the Ronald McDonald house and more. She never expected it to grow as it has, but the group has received many “Thank You” cards for what they do.

According to Schmidt, one thank you they received was from a Ward County Jail inmate the very first year they donated cards there. He was very thankful to the group for donating the Mother’s Day cards they created because it allowed him to give his mom a Mother’s Day card for the first time.

Schmidt said, “Mother’s Day we send down about 1,000 Mother’s Day cards. Some geared towards mom, some geared towards grandma or to someone who is like a mom.”

Every month Folding Angels works to donate at least 500 cards to the State Penitentiary and 130 to Ward County Jail. The cards have had a good impact and according to who they work with at the Ward County Jail, it has even helped his ministry program.

“He said that they don’t believe that there is anybody or any group that would be nice enough to serve them without any cost, that they don’t have to pay for the cards. That it’s just a donation,” explained Schmidt. “They find it hard to believe that people would do that and he said that it kind of opens the door for him on how people can be nice, how people can be like Jesus and share something without demanding something in return.”

The Folding Angels have been able to meet the needs of the State Penitentiary and the Ward County Jail through the many donated items they’ve received through their friends and church. Many donate card stock and stamps and the group has on occasion received money to help cover costs.

“I just think wow, we’ve come a long ways. When we hit the 10,000 mark, it was amazing,” Schmidt said. “It’s just been a blast. We’ve gotten to know each other better and help others.”

The group has gained help from a variety of places with many people donating cards to Folding Angels. When they began donating cards to the State Penitentiary, they were limited to using only one layer cards. At the time, multi-layer was more popular in the card- making community.

Schmidt reached out to a blogger she had seen to ask if she had any ideas to help them.

“She had a lot of really good ideas, but then she put out on her blog what we were doing and she collected cards from people all over the world. We had cards that came from Taiwan, Japan, Australia, and she collected about 500 cards,” Schmidt said.

For the group, it really showed that if people knew there was a need for something and it’s a passion of theirs, they’re more than willing to help.

“We’re thankful for the donations that we’ve gotten,” Schmidt said.

Folding Angels invites anyone who is interested to join them. They meet the second Saturday of every month from September to May at Our Savior Lutheran Church.

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