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Pocatello inmates using talents to promote holiday cheer

November 27, 2018

POCATELLO — Excitement about a good season for the Idaho State University football team spread into the Pocatello Women’s Correctional Center, where three inmates made an orange-and-black quilt for the Athletic Department.

PWCC Warden Amanda Gentry and other prison officials presented the quilt to Pauline Thiros, acting athletic director; Joe Borich, senior associate athletics director for external affairs; and Rob Phenicie, the head football coach; on Monday morning at Holt Arena.

Gentry said the quilt — which shows a likeness of the state, a tiger paw print and the university’s logo — was one of the recent examples of her inmates using their talents to brighten the holiday season in the surrounding community.

“It looks great, especially where the warden said it was their first attempt,” Thiros said after unfolding the quilt and examining both sides.

The quilters who collaborated on the Bengal quilt were Jodi Edgar, Jackie Reed and JoLene Lepo. ISU plans to make the quilt a top item for its spring auction, which is hosted in late April to raise funds for athletic scholarships.

“It’s probably the biggest fundraiser we do of the year by far,” Borich said. “This would be a fantastic auction item.”

The inmates got the idea to make the quilt after seeing a Bengal bumper sticker displayed in prison recreation director Mike Higgins’ office. The bumper sticker prompted a discussion about the exciting football season, and about a column in the Idaho State Journal assuring fans the Bengals were “for real.”

“We thought it would be a good thing to help ISU,” Higgins said. “The inmates up there are talented.”

Gentry said the inmates plan to make another quilt to benefit Make-A-Wish Foundation. PWCC also “adopts” a local family in need for Christmas and is making a quilt for them, she said. Inmates recently made lap blankets for residents of the Idaho State Veterans Home in Pocatello and also made hand warmers, scarves, gloves and hats for patients of Portneuf Cancer Center.

“It’s just anything we can do to keep our hands busy and doing stuff for our community,” Gentry said.

Gentry said the service projects help PWCC inmates make positive contacts in the community, which come in handy upon their release.

“Prisons are part of the community,” she said. “Ninety-five percent of our inmates will get out and go into the community.”

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