Community Involvement

Caring for kids: RJD, CCC support children through charity

Officers pose with a box full of teddy bears.
RJD staff, at right, joined other area law enforcement agencies to give terminally ill children a teddy bear.

Teddy Bear Drive gets help from RJ Donovan Correctional Facility

By Lt. Edgar Garcia

After some coworkers lost children to terminal illnesses, the staff at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJD) was moved to take action. The children’s deaths affected the staff’s families, friends and fellow correctional workers.

“The death of a child is devastating and often referred to as the worst experience a parent can endure. A child’s death causes a profound family crisis. It shatters core beliefs and assumptions about the world and the expectations about how life should unfold. The overwhelming suffering and intense emotions that flood the days, weeks, months, and years following the loss is called grief,” according to The Compassionate Friends, a support group for families who have lost children.

Correctional officers, supervisory staff and the warden got involved in the annual San Diego County Law Enforcement Teddy Bear Drive. This was 29th year for the event.

On Dec. 3, hundreds of law enforcement officers from local, state and federal agencies gathered at Rady Children’s Hospital with one goal — to deliver a teddy bear to every patient with the hope of bringing some comfort to these very ill children.

Throughout the year, over 20 San Diego law enforcement agencies participate in fundraising events to ensure the success of the Teddy Bear Drive. This year, the RJD staff joined in the second annual San Diego Regional Teddy Bear Golf Tournament, and together, raised over $40,000 to support this cause.  

Aside from the teddy bears, the funds also go toward the hospital’s Bereavement Program, which provides counseling, quarterly Celebration of Life events, and takes part in the annual World Wide Candle Lighting.

Special boxes are also created to commemorate a life lost. Bereavement boxes are a personal, creative, and therapeutic way for terminally ill children to compile customized mementos for their families to cherish over time. 

Each family who has lost a child is presented with a special memory box.  These boxes include a memory tile of the child’s hand print, a clip of hair, a mother’s journal, recommendations for a therapist or support group, and a silver finger-print charm.

The RJD staff said they were proud to have been a part of this event. They also thanked Warden Marcus Pollard for his support.

Officers stand around Santa.
Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility staff helped raise $40,000 through a regional law enforcement fundraiser. The purpose is to help families who are experiencing their child’s battle with a terminal illness.

Prison staff pose next to a mound of backpacks.
CCC staff purchased 159 backpacks, stuffed them with school supplies, then volunteered to deliver them to local schools.

CCC staff stuff 159 backpacks for students

By Lt. Charlene Ruggiero

California Correctional Center (CCC) staff bought 159 new backpacks and filled them with school supplies such as pencils, paper, pens, erasers and water bottles.

The backpacks were divided between five schools: Diamond View, McKinley, Meadowview, Johnstonville, Shaffer, Mountain Circle Foster Care Agency, and Pathways which is a non-profit organization designed to provide support to parents with children under age 5.

When delivering the backpacks, many principals expressed their appreciation and gratitude and knew several children who were in need of the supplies.

Staff at Pathways and Mountain Circle were ecstatic to receive such a donation as it gives them the opportunity to reach out to additional families for support.

“CCC staff are always finding ways to help citizens, and show support and kindness within the community. Having the opportunity to bring a smile to a child’s face with a new cool backpack is just one way to make a difference,” said organizers.

Uniformed officers and a dog deliver backpacks to a school.
A CCC K-9 got in on the delivery of backpacks to Shaffer school.