ATLANTA (FOX 5 Atlanta) - A group of nonviolent offenders are having an Easter to remember after they were bailed out just hours before the holiday.
Anthony Gordon started his weekend in the DeKalb County Jail, accused of stealing a car.
He recalled hearing over the intercom, "Hey, pack it up, you're going home." He was in disbelief by the midnight notice.
"I came back down, and I hit the little intercom and said, 'Are y'all sure you're calling me,'" he said.
The South Carolina resident is one of 23 people, all nonviolent and mostly first-time offenders, to be bailed out by the a program through the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church partnered with rapper T.I. and VH1's "Love and Hip Hop" personality Scrapp Deleon.
At the start of Lent, the church set out to raise $40,000, but less than 40 days later, donations far exceeded that goal. Contributions reached $120,000, allowing seven women and 16 men to be brought home just in time for the Easter holiday.
Beaming next to her nephew, Sylvia Gordon said she was grateful to God for the opportunity to share the holiday together. When asked what their Easter plans are, the pair answered: "Go to church!"
"It's like a whole new clean slate," said Tyron Pollard another program recipient. "I was doing drugs before I got locked up … but I don't want to do nothing but do right and strive to be a model citizen for my kids."
Dr. Jamal Bryant, senior pastor at New Birth, applauded his church community's outpouring of help to strangers in DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett and Rockdale counties.
"It's almost like finally meeting the good Samaritan – somebody who you don't know that you didn't see coming," Bryant said, describing the program recipients' reactions. "They're appreciative to be able to press the refresh button."
Pollard, who never really attended church, was particularly touched by this random act of kindness.
"For people to just reach out, willing to help out of the blue, them not knowing you from nobody...that's a blessing," Pollard said.
The "Bail Out" program extends beyond the weekend. New Birth is connecting each individual with a mentor for weekly check-ins. They're also using a portion of the donations to jumpstart college savings for the children of returning citizens, like Pollard.