Five grandchildren gather on the overstuffed sofa in Angela Murchison’s Del Paso Heights home, their knees knocking one another as they wiggle into comfortable spots.
Two other girls snuggle onto the loveseat in the living room as the group decides what movie to watch.
“Ooh, did you see ‘Elf’ ?”
“What about ‘Wreck It Ralph’? ”
“ ‘Wreck It Ralph! ‘Wreck It Ralph!’ ”
Murchison turns on the movie and pulls her grandson Aaron, 1, closer to her. After a few minutes, some of the children lose interest and begin playing. Her own children wander in and out of the house, taking care of various tasks that needed to be done that Sunday afternoon.
The flurry of activity and people is a welcome part of Murchison’s life, which has turned around in recent years. She graduated from Sacramento City College in May and has her cosmetology license. She beams as she shares that her son Isaiah Mathews, 18, is attending William Jessup University in Rocklin with the help of financial aid and scholarships.
“Our family had a history of drug and alcohol abuse, but thanks to the power of prayer, the curse has been broken,” Murchison said.
The family will be among dozens of others who will be at the annual Christmas party hosted by Friends-CARE, a nonprofit organization providing services, educational workshops, support and resources to the at-risk children and families of the incarcerated.
Book of Dreams has been asked to help purchase items such as skateboards, skates and scooters for children attending this year’s Christmas party.
“We care about those who don’t have a voice,” said Dorothy Montgomery, the organization’s executive director.
The party also is an opportunity to provide a little education for families. This year, the topic will be probation.
“People say, ‘Why would you have a workshop at a Christmas party?’ but out of the three-hour party, we have 45 minutes of information, and it’s helpful,” she said. “I believe in educating people, and they’re very appreciative.”
Montgomery aims to be a resource for families like Murchison’ – who have loved ones serving time – and works closely with law enforcement, inviting agency representatives to events as well.
“We do that to show the children that they’re not unwanted just because their parent or someone they love is in prison,” Montgomery said.
Murchison learned of the organization through her uncle, who is serving time in San Quentin.
Her grandchildren have received toys and shoes for the past few Christmases, thanks to the organization.
“I have been blessed in terms of financial stability, but we just make it,” she said. “The party is a big help.”