Lifer's Club serving others in need while serving time
With a population of 2,000, Pikeville is the definition of a small town.
And almost half of the people who live here live in poverty.
Pikeville's poverty rate is three times the national average.
"You don't realize how much and how great the need is," Jane Humble said.
Humble tries to meet the needs of Pikeville's youngest residents by packing plastic bags of food for Bledsoe County students.
One bag holds three meals and ensures kids have something to eat over the weekend.
"Tuna and crackers. There's just several different ways she will go." Humble said.
Humble and other volunteers hand out 500 of these bags each week so kids can worry about classwork and not hunger.
"We don't know what a person's walking life is. We don't know what their need is. If they ask for it, we're going to give it to them," she said.
The Sack Pack Program is fed by donations that come from an unlikely group 16 miles away.
They are known as the Lifer's Club.
"You know, every one of us have made some mistakes that have gotten us here," one member said.
The club is made up of 250 men each serving 25 years or more at the Bledsoe County Correctional Complex, one of Tennessee's 14 state prisons.
"There's guys that give $100, there's guys that give $50, $5 or $2. But they're giving. And there's a reason behind that. They want to be part of changing someone else's life," another member said.
The club collects donations three times a year and votes on which organizations to help.
Below is a list of organizations and the amount of donations from the Lifer's Club from the last three years.
This year, they've raised more than $23,000.
That money comes from the jobs they work while in prison that pay 15-50 cents an hour.
The Sack Pack Program at First Southern Baptist Church has received more than $3,000 of those dollars this year, making up about 40-percent of Humble's budget.
"Most of those kids, they don't have any choice in who they're born to. They're just trying to live the best they can and we're able to help them along," one member said.
An emotional realization for Lifer's who are fathers and unable to watch their children grow because of their choices.
"Everyone doesn't get to see their children. But to know you put a smile on a child's face or that you helped a child in some way, I think that means a lot to them. It means a lot to me," another member added.
The Lifer's we spoke to were convicted of serious crimes, ranging from murder to aggravated robbery.
They agreed to share their stories off camera and say they know an apology isn't enough.
"A man lost his life because of my actions. And although I am sorry, I just want to continue to be a better person. To help people and these things won't happen to anyone else," one Lifer said.
There's no way to undo what's done, but each dollar, each sack, Humble said is a sign of God's work in her community and behind these prison walls.
"It touches my heart and it makes me know that there is good in everyone," she said. "God bless, and thank you."
The Lifer's encourage everyone to donate this season.
If you would like to help the Sack Pack Program, call 423-447-2849.