SAC staff donates hundreds of gifts to those in need

By CRM Therese Giannelli

The spirit of giving is alive and well at California State Prison, Sacramento (SAC). The generous staff at SAC joined forces, once again, with the Sacramento County program Gifts from the Heart (GFTH).

For the past several years custody, medical, mental health and free staff alike have come together to furnish hundreds of Christmas gifts to children, dependent adults and seniors who participate in one of the many social service programs offered to the community of Sacramento. Last year alone over 3,000 GFTH recipients benefited from contributions made by over 90 community partners like SAC.

When efforts began on Nov. 1, dozens of requests poured into the Community Resource Manager’s office to adopt not only single recipients, but in many cases, entire families. Staff members are so excited to see who they have been selected to purchase presents for, many of them felt as though they were the one receiving the gift.

One of the participants has gone as far as incorporating this giving opportunity in their own family’s holiday tradition and spends Thanksgiving week making quilts for each and every one of the two to six recipients they have adopted. Not only are the children receiving a warm blanket for the season, even the baby dolls wrapped in their presents also receive a matching blanket.

This generous spirit that lives in the hearts of SAC staff makes participating in community outreach programs like Gifts from the Hearts so fulfilling. These opportunities to service the community add a glimmer of hope and joy to their sometimes very difficult days, as some of them were once recipients of a community outreach program similar to the one they are now able serve. Once again, SAC staff demonstrate they regularly go above the call of duty in the spirit of giving.

KVSP staff spread holiday cheer

By Lt. Michael Betzinger, AA/PIO
Kern Valley State Prison

Staff from Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP) were busy this holiday season. The institution’s staff made their annual stops at Pond School in Wasco and Cesar Chavez Preschool in Delano. Staff teamed with Santa Claus to gather gifts for all the children and make delivery of those gifts before Christmas Day. Additionally, KVSP visited Delano Skilled Nursing which, year after year, has proven to be one of the most fulfilling holiday visits. Staff members had the pleasure of honoring our revered senior citizens by visiting with them and providing each resident with gift baskets which included blankets, warm socks and various other comforting gifts. Participation in the Delano Christmas Parade, collecting presents for Toys for Tots, and teaming up with North Kern State Prison by sponsoring one of the classrooms for Kern Avenue School in McFarland rounded out KVSP’s season of giving.

For the Delano Christmas Parade, KVSP staff and Honor Guard teamed up to participate. Over 20 staff showed up several hours before the parade to assemble the “Grinch” themed float, complete with a miniature Whoville and, of course, the KVSP jail. Uniformed staff had a challenging time apprehending the Grinch each time he escaped from the tiny jail. The KVSP team also brought plenty of treats with them as they passed out candy to the excited children in attendance.  After a long and fun filled night, all KVSP staff agreed the event was one they would attend for years to come. Their efforts paid off as the float took first place in the “commercial” category of the parade.

OIA holds first toy drive for Shriner’s

By OIA staff

In the spirit of giving CDCR’s Office of Internal Affairs (OIA) in Sacramento held a toy drive. On Dec. 21, the items collected were delivered to the Shriner’s Children Hospital. There were over 100 items collected such as board games, remote control cars, puzzles, stuffed animals and dolls. The toy drive was the first for OIA.

CAL goes distance for community

By Lt. Efren Uribe, AA/PIO
Calipatria State Prison

Calipatria State Prison (CAL) staff participated in multiple local events benefiting young children and the elderly during this holiday season.

  • On Saturday, Dec. 15, CAL participated in the Shop with a Cop program that transported disadvantaged kids to the local Target Store. The concept behind the Shop with a Cop program is to locate young kids whose families may have had some negative contact with law enforcement or who require assistance for other reasons, and have them enjoy a positive experience with a law enforcement agency. On the day of the event, 112 children participated in a procession of law enforcement vehicles which went from Southwest High School in El Centro to the Target store where the toy aisles quickly filled with young shoppers. Each child was assigned and accompanied by a law enforcement officer from the local law enforcement community and given a $100 gift card to shop.
  • On Tuesday, Dec. 18, CAL staff participated in the Salvation Army Angel Tree program that donated gifts to children in the local communities. The Salvation Army selects under privileged children to participate in this event in an effort to bring a smile to their face during the holiday season. This year CAL Staff brought many smiles and donated over 225 gifts to children in the surrounding communities.
  • On Thursday, Dec. 20, CAL staff participated in the Center for Family Solutions sponsored Adopt-A-Family program. The concept behind the program is to identify families who are transitioning out of their shelter and are starting over with their lives. The families generate a wish list that primarily consists of clothing, pots and pans, and personal hygiene items, to the normal toy items for kids. This year approximately 300 families registered for the program and CAL adopted 13 of those families that needed assistance from the local community. The gifts brought smiles and tears of joy from the families and employees who participated in this event.
  • On Friday, Dec. 21, CAL participated in its fourth consecutive year of adopting the Imperial Heights Healthcare and Wellness Centre in Brawley. The center offers the elderly a variety of therapies and care services to help them regain their independence. CAL staff provided all of the 89 residents at the center a gift that consisted of a beanie, gloves, socks, and a blanket. The gifts brought smiles and joy to the residents who accepted the gifts with much gratitude. Warden Warren L. Montgomery spoke with the residents and reminded them that they were greatly appreciated and were not forgotten. The residents graciously thanked CAL staff for their kindness and generosity.
  • On Friday, Dec. 21, CAL staff participated in the Annual Tootsie Tree Drive for the children of Grace Smith Elementary School in Niland. The school teaches children from kindergarten through the fourth grade. This year CAL was able to donate to 74 kids a bag that contained items such as beanies, gloves, socks, candy canes and toys. On top of the toys, four bicycles were donated to the school for children who were selected by Grace Smith Elementary School staff. The gift bags brought joy and smiles to the children who were very appreciative of the gifts they received.

CCWF staff donate toys to schools, children’s hospital

By Lt. Rudy Diaz, AA/PIO
Central California Women’s Facility

Staff from the Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) made a heartwarming impact this holiday season. The institution provided toys and bikes to two local schools and to Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera. Although CCWF had a very short turnaround time, staff donated over $1,500 in cash and toys. Within two days, there was an abundance of toys purchased and collected! As proven in times past, CCWF heeded the call and contributed multiple items and money in order to accomplish the toy drive/giveaway. The Local Chicano Correctional Workers Association Chapter and the CCWF Employee Association also contributed to the cause.

On the morning of Tuesday, Dec. 11, riding in on CDCR’s Fire Engine, the convoy which included Warden Janel Espinoza, Chief Deputy Warden Mike Pallares, Fire Chief Peter Sotello, Santa Claus, as well as a group of other employees representing multiple departments at CCWF delivered the toys and bikes. The first stop was made at Ronald Reagan Elementary School in Chowchilla where the team was excitedly greeted by a sea of children who were obviously more than happy to see them. Following Reagan Elementary school, stops were made at Virginia Lee Rose Elementary School and then the final destination, Valley Children’s Hospital. Collectively, 75 bikes and 550 toys were handed out to well deserving children.

Sac Dessert Social (2)

Ugly sweaters and desserts factored into holiday celebrations at CSP-Sacramento.

SAC staff host ugly sweater contest, dessert social

By Lt. Tony Quinn, AA/PIO
California State Prison, Sacramento

On Dec. 21, California State Prison, Sacramento (SAC), held its annual Holiday Dessert Social, hosted this year by Warden (A) Jeff Lynch.

Sac Dessert Social (3)

Visiting won the door decorating contest.

Each year the staff at SAC gather in the warden’s festively decorated conference room, bringing treats, either homemade or purchased. An abundance of cookies, cakes, brownies, and cheesecake are enjoyed as we gather to share plans for the holidays, exchange best wishes, and discuss plans and goals for the new year.

This year, in addition to the traditional door decorating competition, the ugly sweater competition was introduced. Staff donned their most creative and peculiar looking holiday sweaters to be judged by Associate Wardens John Peterson and Gena Jones. AGPA Alison Dwell-Turner took the honors winning a gift basket full of treats and goodies. Warden Lynch announced the Visiting staff (consisting of Sgt. R. Ash, Officers Y. Klein, A. Byers and Office Technician C. Perea) as the door décor champions for the second consecutive year.

The event was wrapped up with Warden Lynch thanking the SAC staff for their hard work, and wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday season.

From all of us here at SAC to our extended CDCR family, happy holidays and may you have a prosperous and safe New Year.

Correctional Training Center staff gets behind toy drive

By CTC staff

This December, the Richard A. McGee Correctional Training Center (CTC) joined with the Galt Police Department and Cosumnes District Fire Department to help Santa by collecting and distributing toys and gift cards to needy children in the Galt community.

On Dec. 8, CTC Sgt. Peggy Mills presented a check for $2,000 at the Cars for Kids Toy Rally on behalf of the staff at the Academy. The event served 300 youth in the City of Galt this year. The Galt Police Department stated, “We are truly grateful for the donations from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.” Participation in this event is a part of CTC’s continued commitment to serving the community which hosts our training facility. A special thanks goes out to the coordinators of this event: CTC’s Caroline Dunlop and Peggy Mills; and the Galt Police Department’s TJ Guidotti, Crime Prevention Officer.