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Beyond the Fence

Federal prison program helps Little Hats, Big Hearts

When Gina Fobbs read about the Little Hats, Big Hearts program in the February 2016 issue of Texas Co-op Power, she knew the program would be a “win-win” for a group of women that she helps.

But unlike most of the crafters across Texas who donate small red hats to the campaign to raise awareness for congenital heart defects, the women with whom Fobbs works are prison inmates. She’s a counselor at Federal Prison Camp Bryan who helps with a program called Beyond the Fence, which finds ways for the women to contribute to society from inside. 

“Once I saw the article, I just knew this would be a great project for the inmates to help with,” Fobbs said. “Once the warden approved it, they [the inmates] thought it was awesome.” 

She guesses some 90 inmates have made close to 1,000 hats for the program so far, which they do on their own time and with donated materials.

Nancy Johnson was grateful for the help.

“Man, I gathered all the yarn I could get people to donate and sent it to them.” Johnson said. 

Beyond the Fence has helped teachers and libraries in the Bryan area, but this campaign resonated especially well.

“It made me feel great, you know, that they’re giving back and doing something positive,” said Fobbs, a member of Houston County Electric Cooperative who lives in Centerville. “That was what the whole program was about. … They just jumped right in.”