Community Involvement

Charities benefit from Ironwood State Prison’s generosity

Inmate food sale helps 3 nonprofits

By Lt. H. Mora

As area nonprofits continue to face challenges imposed by COVID-19, inmates and leadership at Ironwood State Prison (ISP) took the initiative to deliver needed support to three of Blythe’s nonprofit organizations.

Proceeds from an ISP inmate food sale provided $11,840.01 to Blythe’s Sheltering Wings ($3,946.67), Frank Luke American Legion Post 24 ($3,946.67), and Harmony Kitchen ($3,946.66).

Officials from ISP personally delivered the donations to the organizations’ leadership on Sept. 1.

“The coronavirus pandemic has put many of Ironwood’s community fundraisers on hold. Ironwood State Prison’s management believed a food sale could boost the morale of the inmate population, by working together to raise money for local nonprofit organizations in Blythe,” said ISP Community Resources Manager Carey Ochs. “Inmate fundraisers are usually scheduled quarterly; however, due to COVID-19 restrictions, we had to ensure this sale adhered to specific guidelines to promote social distancing and ensure proper personal protective equipment, such as gloves and face masks, were used. Donations made to nonprofit groups from the food sales are selected by inmate votes by the Inmate Activity Groups involved.”

The donation came at a particularly tough time for the American Legion post, as the organization saw two break-ins over the span of a week. Pandemic-related challenges have also contributed to the hardest year the post has experienced.

“ISP is very proud to work collaboratively with inmate groups to give back to the community, especially during these trying times when most small businesses are struggling. While ISP remains dedicated to the safety, health, and well-being of both the staff and inmate population, we take every opportunity to help those in need,” said ISP Warden Neil McDowell. “At the end of the day, it is these types of events that truly make us all proud to be a part of the ISP family.”

Frank Luke American Legion Post 24’s Dolly Razo shed some tears when receiving the donation, which came the day after the second break-in.

Ironwood’s tradition of giving

ISP inmates and staff have worked together in the past to help support many community causes and nonprofits over the years. The CDCR facility is a continued and long-standing supporter of the Blythe Cancer Resource Center (BCRC) “Steps for the Cure” event, and as recently as March 4 of this year donated thousands of dollars to five area organizations — BCRC, Harmony Kitchen, the Frank Luke American Legion Post, the Blythe Emergency Food Pantry, and Blythe Police Activities League.

Members and leadership of ISP’s staff also participate in the annual “Civil Servants for Santa” holiday event that provides a shopping spree for underprivileged kids. In 2019, ISP continued their tradition of providing presents for select students at their adopted Felix J. Appleby Elementary School – as well as visiting seniors at Blythe Post Acute with gifts.

“When we work together to help someone else, we all win,” said McDowell. “ISP leadership could not be more proud of the way our team comes together to help make a difference, especially when it matters most.”