Mule Creek State Prison
By Lt. Angelo Gonzales, AA/Public Information Officer
Mule Creek State Prison (MCSP) teams up with the Amador County Sheriff’s Department every year to make the holidays brighter for the less fortunate families in the local community.
Over the years, MCSP employees and employee organizations have worked together to raise funds to purchase, gather and donate thousands of toys to families living in the communities of Amador County.
This year was an exceptional year for the annual toy drive.
MCSP staff raised well over $10,000 through bake/food sales, monetary and toy donations.
This would not have been possible without the generous contributions and the hard work of all MCSP staff, and representatives from the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) and the local chapter of the Chicano Correctional Workers Association (CCWA), as well as the construction staff from Gilbane Kitchell.
On Saturday, Dec. 12, MCSP staff and families loaded the toys onto a decorated float. The MCSP Toy Drive float, MCSP Fire Engine, Mule Creek Infill Complex Construction partners from Gilbane Kitchell and the Warden’s classic 1938 Chevrolet participated in the City of Ione’s Annual Holiday Parade.
As the MCSP caravan proceeded down the parade, mini candy canes were tossed to the waiting children along the parade route. At the end of the parade, MCSP staff and families loaded the toys and bikes onto a waiting Amador County Sheriffs’ trailer for delivery to the Saint Sava Mission in Jackson.
On Saturday, Dec. 19, MCSP staff and staff from the Amador County Sheriff’s Department teamed up at Saint Sava Mission in Jackson to distribute thousands of toys to the less fortunate children of Amador County.
“During the busy holiday season, it is great to have so many dedicated staff willing to take time out of their busy day and away from their families to give back to the local community. The generosity and selflessness of our staff is the true spirit of the holiday season,” said Warden Joe Lizarraga.
Division of Adult Parole Operations
In Los Angeles County, Parole Agents for the Division of Adult Parole Operations, Southern Region, distributed food and toys to parolees and their families.
The Dec. 23 event was held at the Alameda Parole Complex in Los Angeles.
District Administrators, Parole Agent Supervisors, agents, retired Parole Agent Harold Dennis and retired Chief Deputy Regional Parole Administrator Dennis Wirt were instrumental in raising money to purchase the food. The food was delivered to the complex by two retired administrators and two retired agents, including Dennis and Wirt.
Parole Agents Dominique Hughes, Velda Clark and Jennifer Barnes planned the toy drive and provided refreshments to the parolees and their families.
The toys were donated by the employees assigned to the two parole complexes. District Administrators Vincent Thompson, James Symington and Diane Tonquillo were instrumental in making the event a success.
The parolees and their families who received the assistance were surprised and the children had smiles on their faces as they were able to select the toys. The parolees thanked the agents and support staff for the event.
Employees said they were happy to help the 60 families, especially the children who might not have otherwise received a good meal or toys for Christmas.
Deuel Vocational Institution
By Lt. Christene Zoucha, AA/Public Information Officer
To help others during the holidays, Deuel Vocational Institution pitched in with bicycles and the warden went “behind bars” for charity.
Bikes for kids
For the third year, the Tracy Police Department and DVI joined forces to donate refurbished bicycles to the Boys and Girls Club of Tracy.
The project starts at the Tracy PD evidence yard where the bikes make their journey to DVI. These bikes are then delivered to the Auto Body Career Technical Education Instructor where a few selected inmates repaired, painted, and replaced the parts on the bicycles.
The refurbishing project was included as part of the inmates curriculum for learning trade skills in Paint and Auto Body repair.
The finished bicycles were then delivered to the Boys & Girls Club of Tracy to be given to children as early Christmas gifts.
This year, the DVI Chapter of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, Tracy Police Officers Association and Tracy Elks Lodge assisted this project by donating needed funds to purchase replacement bike parts.
These donations allowed for the purchase of bike seats, new tires and rims, handlebar grips, helmets and brakes.
The manual labor came from inmates who were determined to provide a high quality refurbished product, according to those with the project.
Anderson’s Mower and Bike in Manteca and Tracy Cyclery in Tracy provided the new replacement parts often at a reduced cost.
Warden goes behind bars for charity
Every year in Tracy, a non-profit group takes giving community members – and throws them behind bars. The lock-up event is all in jest and money raised goes to a good cause. This year, DVI Warden Jerome Price donned traditional prison stripes for the charity. This is Warden Price’s second year of volunteering to be locked for an incredible community cause.
The fake-jail fundraiser, known as Brighter Christmas, supports youth and senior citizens in Tracy.
Gene Birk, a member of DVI’s Citizens Advisory Committee, invited (or rather, locked up) Warden Price for the charitable endeavor.
What is the Jail? Each year, a Brighter Christmas Jail is established where anyone can either volunteer to serve time in the jail or someone can call to have a specific person picked up by the local VIP police and thrown behind the bars.
This year’s jail was set up in front of Valley First Credit Union at the corner of Central Avenue and 10th Street, where local business owners, citizens, and passersby were able to make a donation for the worthy cause.
Brighter Christmas of Tracy is coordinated through the efforts of almost 140 non-paid local volunteers, including DVI. The non-profit group provides food and toys to Tracy residents in need during the Christmas holiday.
According to the jail event organizers, Brighter Christmas raised about $7,900 in 2015 and was able to help 650 local families.
“We were very happy to have Warden Price as one of our prisoners again this year. The money he helped raised purchased many new toys for our children. We had a total of 1,100 children that each received at least three new toys and stocking stuffers,” said Gene Birk. “Warden Price was a very good prisoner, and I think he really enjoyed visiting and talking with our other prisoners.”
Christmas 2015 was the 36th year of helping families in the Tracy area. Brighter Christmas was founded by Joan Sparks, the former Mayor of Tracy, and Gene Birk.
“Our first jail was built by prisoners at DVI,” Birk said. “They really enjoyed that project. DVI has helped Brighter Christmas for many years, and we thank the employees and Officers.”
(Editor’s note: Some websites may not be accessible from a CDCR computer.)
Learn more about Brighter Christmas, https://brighterchristmasoftracy.com/
Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp
By Deborah Brady, Youth Correctional Counselor
and Claudette Perrin, Youth Correctional Counselor
Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp firefighters and staff united to make the holidays brighter for three families, raising $2,800. The camp and staff also celebrated the holidays with in their own special way.
On Dec. 23 and 24, 2015, Youth Correctional Counselor Deborah Brady visited the homes of the three deserving families to deliver gifts, food and clothing. All of the children were very delighted to see the beautifully wrapped packages coming to their door.
The parents were grateful and moved to tears by the generosity of the camp.
“It was a very rewarding experience for all of us. The guys who delivered the packages said it felt really good to them to see that the money they donated make the families so happy,” YCC Brady said. “One of them commented that it felt really good to give back to others, because he knows how it feels to go without things you need.”
PGYCC has a long standing tradition of annually searching for and picking out just the right Christmas Trees to cut and deliver to CDCR staff and youth. PGYCC is honored to share such a wonderful tradition with the finest members of CDCR’s Division of Adult Institutions and Camps as well as the Division of Juvenile Justice.
In celebration of the successful Christmas Tree quest, PGYCC held its Christmas Dorm Decorating Contest.
This year, each of four fire crews received a similar amount of Christmas decorations and instantly came up with creative themes. For 10 days, each fire crew was allowed to create a wonderland of inspiration derived from cherished childhood memories.
The top winner went to “It’s a Charlie Brown Christmas” with a close second place to “It’s a Dr. Seuss Christmas.”
Each crew worked diligently on their displays to be judged by staff. After judging was complete, all guys received ice cream cones provided by the Educational Team. A white Christmas on Christmas Eve was shared by all at “The Grove.”
PGYCC also makes Christmas boughs which are distributed throughout towns in the nearby area. The firefighters often participate in the local parades as well.
High Desert State Prison
By Lt. Gregory Crowe, AA/Public Information Officer
The Christmas Holiday was a very generous time of the year for High Desert State Prison (HDSP) with $10,000 being donated to various community organizations in addition to food and gifts.
Through inmate food and photo sale fundraising, HDSP was able to donate $3,000 to the Backpacks for Kids Program and $1,500 to the holiday programs at Susanville Salvation Army, $1,000 to Camp Ronald McDonald at Eagle Lake, $1,000 to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, $1,500 to Lassen Family Services and $2,000 to Lassen County Toys for Tots.
The staff of HDSP donated over four barrels of food to the Susanville Salvation Army, Lassen Senior Services and Lassen Family Services.
The staff of HDSP also adopted 21 senior citizens this year providing them with various Christmas gifts they needed ranging from a new pair of slippers to new microwave ovens.
California State Prison, Solano
By Lt. Marlaina Dernoncourt, AA/Public Information Officer
CSP-Solano inmates recently handcrafted stools and puzzles for needy children in the local community.
Stools and puzzles were taken to the Opportunity House in Vacaville and Mission Solano in Fairfield.
CSP-Solano Records Staff collected and donated food, toiletries, toys and clothing to the families housed at the Opportunity House in Vacaville.
Learn more (editor’s note: some websites are not accessible by a CDCR computer):