From Easter baskets to Christmas toy drives to shopping with underprivileged youth, parole agents around California come together to help families reunite, communities heal and give parolees the necessary tools to succeed.
One example is Easter when agents rallied behind the 15th annual Operation Easter Basket put on by Justin Rudd and his Community Action Team (CAT). The goal was to have 3,500 essentials-filled baskets for children of low-income Long Beach families. The Division of Adult Parole Operations (DAPO) created an Operation Easter Basket team that consisted of Parole Agent Supervisors Karen Reed, Sheila Green-Beck, MaiLeng Street, and Latricia Martin; Residential treatment program (Chapman House) executives Esther Chapman and Jackie Catlin-Keel; and lifer parolee-participants Starla Richmond and Carmen Franks.
Volunteers, assembly crews, and a delivery team filled the community gymnasium. Everyone was assigned to various tables, each labeled with a different age group, ranging from boys and girls, ages 2-14. There were over 500 volunteer groups during the three-day event. Team DAPO put together over 150 Easter Baskets for boys and girls from different age groups.
DAPO aided in setting a record of putting together 3,814 baskets filled with shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste and tooth brush, coloring books, crayons, stuffed animals and candy. Channel 7 local news interviewed CAT Board Member Lena Ragusa and showcased the gift-giving event that brings the community together. The recipients of these baskets were 32 agencies and schools in the Long Beach area. It was a heart-filled day for Team DAPO and a wonderful opportunity to be a part of a community centered cause.
“We have never worked with a law enforcement agency who contributes so much of their time to this community. Thank you all for the work that you do,” Ragusa told PA III Reed.
“We have never given back like this before. It feels really good knowing the baskets are going to children who don’t have much,” said one of the parolees.