Community Involvement

Thanksgiving sees staff helping community; over 400 turkeys donated

Compiled by Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor
Office of Public and Employee Communications

The annual California State Employees Food Drive is a friendly competition between agencies to donate food to their local food banks. The drive runs through the end of December. According to Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services, CDCR staff were generous for the first leg of the drive, focusing on Thanksgiving. Talking turkeys, there were 214 birds donated from California Correctional Health Care Services, 182 for the Division of Adult Institutions, and 53 for the Division of Juvenile Justice, representing a grand total of 449 turkeys from CDCR. Around the state, institutions and programs donated to their local food banks or directly helped families in need by volunteering to serve meals at community dinners.

Men and women stand in front of a Save Mart Supermarkets sign while holding a frozen turkey.
From left are Capt. Patrice Davis, Business Managers Stephanie Cope and Kristin Drummond, AGPAs Tasha Renison and Sonia Mercado, a Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services employee, Lt. Gary Turner and Capt. Mark Tillotson.

Division of Adult Institutions

By Sonia Mercado

As part of the State Employees Food Drive, CDCR’s Division of Adult Institutions (DAI) at Headquarters collected monetary donations for this year’s Turkey Drive, purchasing 182 turkeys for those in need this holiday season. Additionally, a local grocery store was instrumental in providing a large quantity of turkeys. All the turkeys were donated to the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services for distribution to those in need in the greater Sacramento area.

Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services unloads 53 DJJ donated turkeys.

Division of Juvenile Justice

By Mike Sicilia, photo by Nic Hatfield

Division of Juvenile Justice headquarters staff donated more than 50 turkeys for needy families in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. According to research analyst Nic Hatfield, who organized the drive, the final count was 53 birds equaling more than 764 pounds of meat. Staff delivered the fresh and frozen birds to the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services — who in turn distributed them to needy families for Thanksgiving. Ever the data analyst, Hatfield noted that with 60 DJJ headquarters staff, the haul represented an 88.3% participation rate, which he hopes will continue and improve as the State Employees Holiday Food Drive goes on through December.

The CCHCS team delivers their turkeys to the food bank in Sacramento as part of the food drive.

California Correctional Health Care Services

The CCHCS team gathered donations and purchased 214 turkeys for the California State Employees Food Drive. The team then delivered them to the Sacramento food bank.

Men and women stand behind a banner that reads Division of Adult Parole Operations Harbor District, Compton, California.
Parole agents volunteer to serve food at the Salvation Army’s Thanksgiving dinner for families in need.

DAPO, Southern Region, Harbor District

On Nov. 13, the Division of Adult Parole Operations Southern Region, Harbor District, with the assistance of local donations, hosted its first Thanksgiving dinner for 35 parolees and their families.  Parolees and their loved ones were invited to the Compton Parole Office where coffee and pastries were waiting for them while their assigned agents gifted them with a turkey and trimmings for a hearty holiday dinner and wished them a happy holiday.  The Harbor District also presented turkeys and trimmings to the Compton Salvation Army, the Chapman House and the Menlo House, an organization servicing the parolee population.

On Nov. 25, in the same giving holiday spirit, the Harbor District volunteered at the Compton Salvation Army’s Love Kitchen and helped serve Thanksgiving dinner to local families in need. There was musical entertainment and a toy giveaway as part of the holiday festivities. Agents found it rewarding to volunteer their time to help others and see the smiles and laughter from those served. 

“It is important for parole agents to connect and assist our local communities in need,” said Parole Agent III Irma Gonzalez, who organized parole participation for the event. “Our involvement with Salvation Army is an example for the next generation of parole agents to get involved and interact positively with the community.”  

A pile of frozen turkeys is in front of a table full of food. Behind the table are two uniformed staff and others in civilian clothing.
CAC staff donated Thanksgiving meals to families in need.

California City Correctional Facility

By Lt. Sharman Parker

California City Correctional Facility staff donated Thanksgiving meals to Bridge for Hope, a local non-profit organization. Bridge for Hope provides weekend bags, break bags, Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, and milk and muffins to families who may need that extra help providing for their children. A donation table was set up at the facility and a challenge went out to staff to donate items for 15 baskets. Staff went above and beyond and donated a total of 26 Thanksgiving food baskets.