Community Involvement

CDCR staff make holidays merry across state

All across the state, CDCR staff and the incarcerated made holidays brighter for the less fortunate. Institutions volunteered time and funds to provide gifts, clothing, food and rebuilt bicycles to their communities.

Folsom State Prison presents holiday bike donation

Four incarcerated men at Folsom Prison stand amid more than 50 bicycles.
Members of the incarcerated men stand among bicycles they helped repair. The bicycles were given to children and the homeless.

Folsom State Prison (FSP) and the Cameron Park Rotary Club have helped needy children and the homeless in the community through a bicycle repair program for more than 30 years.

The partnership between the prison and the Rotary club has been in operation since 1986.

Discarded bikes are dropped off at the Veterans Hall in the city of Folsom by the community year round.  These bikes usually are in need of major repair or sometimes are bikes that children have simply outgrown. 

The bicycles are brought to FSP Minimum Support Facility. There members of the incarcerated population repair and restore the bicycles.

The Cameron Park Rotary donates parts and paint to the program. Bicycles beyond repair are stripped of usable parts, and sent to a metal recycling program.

The restored bicycles are donated to children in need and the homeless. The Rotary Club collects the restored bicycles works with local schools to identify children from less fortunate homes.

Bicycles are distributed in December for Christmas and May for the summer.

This year’s Christmas donation was approximately 240 bicycles. Paradise Fire victims, Union Gospel Mission, Alameda County Probation. El Dorado County Probation, El Dorado County School District, and Ranch Cordova Rotary and Rancho Cordova Chamber of Commerce distributed the bikes.

Avenal’s ugly holiday sweaters boost morale

Three people wearing masking and holiday sweaters
Ugly sweaters are also a part of some Christmas celebrations, as illustrated by these three contest winners at Avenal State Prison.

By Lt. James Campbell

In an effort to spread holiday cheer, Avenal State Prison held an ugly sweater contest for non-uniformed staff last month. Social distancing guidelines were followed and masks were worn by all participants. 

Prizes for the top three places were provided by the ASP Employee Action Committee (EAC) and Community Resource Manager (CRM). 

First place went to Sheila DeLaCruz from ASP’s Education Department. She received $45 cash for her cow sweater.

George Torres, ASP’s Native American Spiritual Leader, netted second place. He received a $25 Starbuck’s gift card for his Santa Claus sweater. 

Kaylyn Ordonez from the ASP Records Department, garnered third place.  She received a $10 Bath and Body gift card for her Elf Sweater.

Jane Anaya and Janelle Chastain, both from ASP’s Records Department, received honorable mentions. They both received challenge coins.

Judges for the contest were AA/PIO Lt. James Campbell, CRM Dee Lovette, and EAC President Lori Urbano.

CDCR staff surprises Alpaugh school students with gifts for holidays 

Ten masked people facing camera, including one dressed as Santa
SATF staff brought Santa and many presents to the children at Alpaugh School.

Volunteers from the California Substance abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison at Corcoran (SATF) came together 1ast month to provide over 215 gifts to the Alpaugh School District.

 Every child from pre-school through sixth grade was given a gift.

SATF has long been involved with the small community of Alpaugh in Tulare County. Every December SATF staff donate a gift as part of the annual Project Santa.

The gifts were sorted, wrapped and organized by classroom.  This year posed more challenges because of COVID-19 and distance learning.

However, SATF was up to the task and delivered on their promise. Santa was able to get in on the Zoom classroom action and visit the students.

For the students who didn’t have a Zoom class that day, Santa recorded a message for the school to post on their website.

Organizers thanked this year’s participants who donated gifts, money, and time to make this another memorable moment for this small Alpaugh School. 

CHCF staff spread holiday cheer

CDCR staff give children gifts for the holidays.
Staff at CHCF made sure children at a Stockton school got at least one gift for Christmas.

If you are reading this article you most likely are still employed despite the pandemic. This is not the case for some.

Instead of toys, some children asked Santa to help their parents with paying bills.

Staff at California Health Care Facility (CHCF) realize 2020 has been a tough year for the Stockton community. They wanted to help local families.

To the delight of everyone, Santa and Mrs. Claus paid a special visit to the families and students of El Dorado School in Central Stockton.

CHCF acting Warden Robert Burton along with Santa, Mrs. Claus and the CHCF elves, set out to make this Christmas bigger and brighter for the students and families.

The toys provided by CHCF might have been the only toys some of the children at El Dorado School received.

Because of this heart-breaking fact, CHCF staff went all out by sponsoring Pre-k through 8th grade, as well as the El Dorado student’s siblings.

Custody, non-custody and health care staff donated over 1,000 toys. The toys included drones, skateboards, bikes, scooters, stuffed animals, dolls, remote controlled cars, Legos, books and art supplies.

Over 20 staff members from Office Technicians, Officers, Captains, Associate Wardens and the Warden volunteered to distribute the toys. Some volunteered to dress up as Santa and Mrs. Claus on their day off.

Mr. and Mrs. Claus said, “Christmas only comes once a year and COVID can’t stop our Christmas cheer.”

Pleasant Valley collects toys for Coalinga children

CDCR staff gathered children's toys for the holidays.
Pleasant Valley staff collected toys for children in Coalinga.

A successful food sale campaign to raise funds for the Annual Christmas Gift Program for the City of Coalinga earlier this year inspired the Pleasant Valley State Prison (VSP) staff.

Recognizing the financial difficulties many residents were having, a call to action was heard.

Prompted by the giving spirit of the holiday, Lt. Michael Harris, AA/PIO (A), along with the Community Resource Office championed a toy drive. Ron Godwin, Warden (A), and PVSP staff provided encouragement. 

The goal was simple, to ask staff to bring a new toy or make a cash contribution so that toys may be purchased for the cause. With a modest goal of 100 new toys to be collected, the staff gathered 130. 

Each year, the City of Coalinga provides a new jacket, pair of shoes, socks and a new toy for resident children ages newborn to 17 years old.

“Some of these kids may not have much of a Christmas to celebrate if it wasn’t for the gifts they receive through this program. It really puts things into perspective how much this is needed,” said Coalinga city manager Marissa Trejo. 

The recipients received the donations at an outdoor drive-through distribution event.

High Desert, CCC turn into holiday angels

CDCR staff's holiday gifts on a table.
HDSP, CCC staff collected many gifts for seniors.

By Dianne Morrison, CRM Office Technician, HDSP

Christmas and the holidays are often the time a great deal of people choose to give. This could be true as this is also a time when so many people are in need.

Regardless of reasons, the employees of High Desert State Prison (HDSP) and California Correctional Center (CCC) seize the opportunity to take on the annual “Lassen Senior Services Angel Tree” every year.

Staff members look forward to this event. It proven near and dear to their hearts.

Wishes pour in for help

Both prisons receive a stack of papers that list the three wishes from each participant of the Angel Tree. These are passed on to employees volunteering to make the senior’s wishes come true.

The wishes range from fruit cake to hired house-keeping for a day. Sometimes staff ask local business to help with bigger items.

Susanville Real Estate generously donated the services of a house cleaner. Zaengle’s Furniture and Floor Covering donated a dining room table.

The greatest part of this event is delivering an abundance of wrapped gifts to the Lassen Senior Center. Executive Director, Penny Artz, is always there to greet with a smile and lots of appreciation.

Efforts produce many gifts for seniors

Together with the staff of HDSP, CCC, and other members of the community, Lassen County area seniors received 51 gifts.

HDSP Community Resources Manager’s (CRM) Office received one wish that spurred giving to another area of need — foster children.

The Angel Tree program allowed HDSP and CCC to give 58 gift cards to local foster children.

Foster children get bikes, clothing, toys

The employees of HDSP didn’t stop there. They also wanted to include children who are involved with Lassen Family Services.

Staff from HDSP, Susanville Real Estate, and Town and Country Real Estate wrapped gifts for 27 children. The gifts included bicycles, clothing, toys, and more.

The employees of HDSP also contributed to a food and hygiene drive for the Lassen Senior Center. Staff delivered a non-perishable food items, toothbrushes and toilet paper to seniors.

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