By Maryanne Larios, District Administrator
Division of Adult Parole Operations
In early November, Parole Agent (PA) III Rajesh Talwar asked the other supervisors in the South Coast District if there was any interest in starting a turkey meal and toy drive for the holiday season.
Six weeks later, 17 parolees and their families were able to pick up their meal and gifts.
To get ready for the big day, parole agents and California Parole Apprehension Team (CPAT) agents collected money and toys. Each parole unit was asked to identify parolees who were in clear need of food for this season and identify children (including age and gender) for an appropriate toy gift.
Decorated toy boxes were placed throughout the Irvine parole complex for the toy drive.
“I got some really great deals on toys during Black Friday sales,” said PAIII Talwar. He encouraged others to be on the lookout for toy sales.
Parole agents were then asked to notify the parolees to come pick up the turkey meals and encouraged them to bring the families for some light refreshments.
On a rainy Wednesday afternoon on Dec. 21, families came together at the Irvine Parole Complex and were given a turkey and all its fixings. The children were given a wrapped toy gift to put under their Christmas tree at home or to open immediately.
The families were offered candy canes as well as coffee and hot chocolate with marshmallows. There was an assortment of desserts including apple and pumpkin pies, various cookies, chocolate cake and some coffee crumb cake. The room was decorated with Christmas décor and holiday music was playing in the background. Parole agents assisted in the distribution of the meal and presents and sat down to enjoy the refreshments with the families.
With the help of retired Parole Agent II Harold Dennis and District Administrator Dennis Wurt, who coordinated all the food purchases and transported them to the Irvine Parole Complex, the first Turkey Meal and Toy drive was a huge success. Organizers hope to make it the first of many turkey and toy drives.
“This is a great example of how integrating family systems within parole can change a parolee’s outlook on their future success,” said Jon Stern, DAPO Chief Deputy Regional Administrator (A). “The South Coast Turkey Toy Drive is a wonderful demonstration of the kind hearts our agents possess.”