Darius Galloway, a sergeant at Salinas Valley State Prison, is behind multiple charitable projects in the community. During the holidays, he’s instrumental in helping distribute gifts to families in need through the Angel Tree project. He’s also involved in Cops Giving Tree in Soledad.
He doesn’t wear an elf or Santa suit, he said, because children enjoy seeing custody staff in their uniforms.
“So, when I go out passing out gifts, I wear my uniform. Some of the kids even want a picture with us. For the most part, it seems like it brightens up their day,” Galloway said.
Angel Tree involves staff at Salinas Valley prison with schools and police departments offering names of children in need. The kids write a wish list of two things they might want.
“After that we place their names on a paper Angel my wife makes, (we put the) Angel on a Christmas tree in our administration building. Then the staff of Salinas Valley State Prison goes, pulls the name off the tree and shops for the kids,” Galloway explains. “Once we have all the kids’ gifts, we deliver to the child’s home before Christmas.”
The Angel Tree project is something Salinas Valley State Prison has done for 23 years.
The second holiday project, Cops Giving Tree, is part of a non-profit organization in Soledad. Since 2009, the group has held a dinner for the families in need, following up with Santa handing out presents.
Groups involved include Salinas Valley prison, Correctional Training Facility, Soledad Police Department and the Soledad school district.
By Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor