By Lance Eshelman, Community Resources Manager
Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility

Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJD) and the San Diego Salvation Army Kroc Center teamed up to donate 200 bicycles to children in San Diego, a partnership that has been going strong since 2014. Glynis Eckert, Marketing & Communications Manager for the Kroc Center, is no stranger to how much work goes into making all of this happen. When planning began in late August, it was clear that RJD staff and inmates had to come together to ensure each identified kid would receive a bike.

RJD Executive staff met with the Inmate Advisory Committee and Inmate Family Council to collaborate on ways to support the cause. It was decided that a Costco Food Sale was a sure-fire way to raise enough money to cover the cost of the proceeds. Everyone involved in the Food Sale worked tirelessly to make sure it was successful and RJD ended up raising over $20,000. Not only did that cover the cost of the bikes, but there was even a little extra to buy the kids breakfast on the day of the giveaway and, of course, a new bike lock and helmet.

On Nov. 9 the Warehouse at RJD received over 200 children’s bikes, boxed up and ready to build. What better way to accomplish the mission of building these bikes then to rally the staff and have a friendly bike building competition? Over 60 people showed up to RJD on the morning of Saturday, Nov. 17, to help build the bikes. Food was provided by the California Crime Victims Coalition and prizes were donated by Eastlake Church, who also had a team of volunteers helping with the build.

With bikes purchased and built (and checked for safety by Fire Chief Mario Hernandez and his crew), the only thing left was to surprise the kids with their very own, brand new bike. Six news crews and over 200 kids arrived to the Kroc Center on Nov. 30.

“Every child should experience the joy a bike can bring and it was a tremendous blessing to see that joy on the childrens’ faces. The joy that the kids experience has brought me peace, which I can now bring back to the prison and share with the inmate population,” said Warden Patrick Covello.

“We are so blessed to receive these bicycles, helmets, and locks for deserving children from the Donovan Correctional Facility,” said Major Rick Peacock, Executive Director of the Kroc Center and Corps Officer. “We value and appreciate the continued support for our community and thank the staff and inmates of Donovan to make this happen every year.”