By Lupe Cartagena, Administrative Assistant/PIO

Substance Abuse Treatment Facility (SATF) personnel donated 502 Christmas gifts, 141 refurbished bicycles, and presented a check for $2,338.16 to a local organization as part of the Project Santa program.

Project Santa, a SATF tradition for several years, is an annual gift-giving event that focuses on providing Christmas gifts to children and teens in the local communities.

Each season, Christmas trees of “hope” are placed throughout the institution with a tag noting the age and gender of children selected by local community schools and groups.

Each year staff members select a tag or several tags from the Christmas tree, and respond with wrapped gifts, which are passed out to various organizations.

Community Partnership Manager Florence Coté said the bicycles are donated to the prison throughout the year by community groups, local firefighters and police agencies. The inmates then refurbish the bikes – with a new paint job, new tires and a tune-up. Bikes that cannot be repaired are used as part of the prison’s recycling program.

“The donation makes a huge impact on the lives of these children, most of all because they realize that someone cares about them and their circumstances. The bicycle is a miracle of hope for such a child.” said Dr. Jeanne Marie Caris-Mcmanus, executive director at West Side Family Preservation Services Network, an advocacy service on behalf of very-low-income families, many of which have been affected by domestic violence.

The inmates at SATF also contributed this season by holding Inmate Charity Drives, consisting of food sales where a percentage was designated for a local charity.  The proceeds of the Inmate Charity Drives allowed SATF to present a check for $2,338.16 to Corcoran Emergency Aid.

The Christmas gifts and bicycles were presented to Alpaugh School District, Visalia Parenting Network, West Side Services in Huron, Hanford Breakfast Lion’s Club and Corcoran Emergency Aid.