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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)- The last few years for Calandra Lashley and her 3 children have been rough. Her husband is currently serving a 70 year sentence in Green County. She even remembers the first time her children went to see him in prison.

“It was like 6 years before I took them because I was afraid of how they were going to react. The whole trip trip home, they cried. They cried all the way home and when we got home they told me ‘Mom, we can never do this ever again. And i was like what?! You don’t want to go see him and they were like, No! We can’t ever miss this much time again, we have to go, we just have to,” said Lashley.

She says it’s taken a toll on the entire family.

“For me, it was hard. It was truly hard, because, i’m a family person and you know I love their dad with all my heart and I always thought of that 2 parent thing, you know, that dad’s got to be in the father’s life and for me to watch my kids have to suffer like that, it took a toll on me because I felt for a long time that it was my fault. But I just tell God, Ok God, you got me,” said Lashley.

Calandra and her children find refuge at The Father’s Child Ministry, a community outreach program that reaches out to children whose fathers are absent from their home.

“One thing that we do and we really try to strive with our ministry is to show them who their real father is and their heavenly father and by receiving their heavenly father, that will help them through the transition, through the pitfalls of not having their fathers there,” said Edward Yeates, Founder of The Father’s Child Ministry.

With help from her church and The Father’s Child Ministry, Calandra’s seen improvement in her children’s attitude. And even though they miss their father, they remember his spirit each holiday season.

“Everybody comes in Christmas Eve, Christmas Day. We eat together, laugh, fellowship do everything. I’m always trying to do something to try to fill that void for them to make them know that regardless of anything, you are still loved,” said Lashley.

The family also plans to visit their loved one around new years.

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