A Big Harvey Donation, From an Unexpected Source

More than 6,600 prisoners in Texas donated almost $54K
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 16, 2017 11:05 AM CDT
After Harvey, Inmates Donated 'Astonishing Sum'
The guard tower at a Texas state prison unit is submerged by water from the flooded Brazos River in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey on Sept. 1, 2017, in Rosharon, Texas.   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

As Americans open their wallets to help victims of a recent rash of tragedies—beginning with Hurricane Harvey—a big donation comes from a group that managed the feat despite not having wallets to open. The Dallas News last week reported that more than 6,600 Texas inmates donated $53,863 to Harvey relief efforts between Aug. 31 and Sept. 30. That averages to $8 per inmate, with each pulling the money from his or her commissary fund, which is the account used to buy everything from personal hygiene items to snacks. The New York Times calls it "an astonishing sum," as balances on many accounts sit below $5.

Mashable reports the accounts can be funded through relatives or friends, or through the wages an inmate's prison job pays. The donation wasn't an unprecedented move: The Times reports Texas inmates wanted to do something in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and the state Department of Criminal Justice came up with the commissary-donation route. About $44,000 was donated then. (More Hurricane Harvey stories.)

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