Hardin Co. jailer collecting toys for inmates' kids - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Hardin Co. jailer collecting toys for inmates' kids

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ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Hardin County Detention Center is gray and lined with fencing and barbed wire. It looks like your standard jail. But inside, it has a whole different feeling -- because of a holiday project that comes straight from the heart.

The Hardin county jail houses 600 inmates. On a slow day, a dozen kids might come in to visit relatives. But that number jumps to about 50 kids a day around Christmas.

It's not easy for parents to see their kids upset during a jail visit and it's not easy for staff either. That's why Hardin county jailer Danny Allen is surrounded by toys.

"When they walk out of there sometimes with tears in their eyes, it's hard for me to walk back in here without tears in my eyes, knowing that little child is leaving here without their mommy or their daddy," said Allen.

Brian Smith, an inmate serving out a sentence for possession of meth, will spend his fourth Christmas away from his family.

"It's awful. I mean, being locked up, we get visits the day after Christmas on Saturday, you know missing Christmas with your family, it hurts a lot," said Smith.

But the toys might help to ease the pain. Allen says he got the idea from the Oldham County jail, which collects toys on a regular basis to give to children who are upset by jail visits.

Allen decided to collect toys to spread Christmas cheer to children who come in.

"The majority of our inmates are people that made bad choices. These small children shouldn't have to suffer from what their parents done or other relatives in any way," said Allen.

The toys will be handed out the week of Christmas during visits. Some minimum security inmates with special privileges -- like smith -- will give the gifts to their kids themselves.

"It's actually going to change the outlook of these inmates, how people care, and the community, hey we want to take care of your kids. That's what this is all about, the kids," said Allen.

"My boys tell me all the time they need me out there.You know, they're growing up without a dad right now, and it hurts me a lot," said Smith. "I'm paying for it everyday."

But this Christmas, it is a season of hope at the Hardin County Jail.

"Ten months left and I'm back home working. My boys say they can't wait," said Smith.

If you'd like to contribute, you can drop off new toys or cash at the jail until Dec. 20.

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