Civil Servants for Santa offers chance to serve community
By Lt. JJ Hernandez
Chuckawalla Valley and Ironwood state prisons (CVSP and ISP) hosted the annual Civil Servants for Santa in Blythe on Dec. 5. This long-standing tradition is a way to contribute to the community.
This year, CVSP employees as well as ISP Medical Staff ensured all adults and children adhered to all COVID-19 precautions, including face masks, temperature checks, and social distancing. Local law enforcement and fire departments also participated, helping ensure children had a special Christmas.
Kids get to shop with a cop
Children were paired with uniformed personnel for a shopping trip at a retail store. Others involved included the Arizona Department of Transportation, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Blythe City Fire Department, Riverside County Probation Department, Phoenix House, the Palo Verde Valley Transit Agency, police, firefighters, nurses, Riverside County Probation, and CVSP and ISP correctional officers and management staff.
The 10th annual benefit saw Santa Claus’ appearance adjusted to a live feed on a flat screen television for the youth to communicate and take photos.
When the children completed their shopping, they were given a goody bag provided by the CVSP Employee’s Association. The ISP staff also provided face coverings.
Others attending included ISP Chaplain Samuel Burton, a recently elected city council member; Blythe Mayor Dale Reynolds, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department-Colorado River Station, and Blythe Jail.
Many helped make event bright
Organizers thanked CVSP Community Resource Manager (CRM) Kenny Kalian, ISP CRM Carrey Ochs, CVSP’s Employee Association Vice-President Cecilia Arzate, Blythe’s Police Activity League, and others who worked to ensure the event’s success.
Warden David Holbrook and Ironwood State Prison Chief Deputy Warden John Merchant thanked everyone for their generosity and hard work making this special event a memorable one for the children.
Since the usual toy store closed three years ago, the local hardware store offered space for the shopping spree.
ACE Hardware/Inland Builders Supply’s Dave Bayles and Steve Lindbergh, along with staff, stepped up to deliver aisles of toys for the annual event.
“In these difficult and trying times, it is important for the community to know that we stand behind them. They have our full support and we are here to help. It is a privilege to be able to help the community and to bring a little cheer to these children’s Christmas,” said CDW Merchant.