CLAYTON - An array of gleaming toys and bicycles created and refurbished by county jail inmates were on display at the Marsh Creek Detention Facility in Clayton today for workers from county agencies that will distribute them as holiday gifts to local children in need.
About 75 inmates enrolled in the Contra Costa Adult School at the county jail worked throughout the year to create the wooden toys and fix up some 200 bicycles in their own version of Santa's workshop, Contra Costa County Office of Education representatives said.
This morning, employees from more than a dozen county organizations that serve local children got a glimpse of the inmates' handiwork during a visit and reception at the Clayton jail and submitted orders for the toys they hope to give away as presents this holiday season.
The visit was part of a 22-year annual program organized by the Contra Costa County Office of Education and the sheriff's office that pairs inmates' creations with local charities that help kids and families during the holidays, according to office of education spokesman Jonathan Lance.
Through the program, inmates at the Marsh Creek Detention Facility who are enrolled at the county's adult school work under teachers' direction to repair used bicycles and make wooden toys such as doll houses, doll furniture, fire engines, cars and games.
Organizations that distribute the jail workshop's toys and bikes to children include the Bay Area Rescue Mission, the county's social services department, the El Cerrito Fire Department, the Monument Crisis Center in Concord and the Salvation Army.
The inmates who took part in this year's program were among roughly 2,895 inmates from all three Contra Costa County jails who were enrolled in adult school classes, according to Lance.
Classes include academic curriculum such as GED preparation and basic literacy to vocational programs including computer training and woodshop. Last June, 50 of those student-inmates earned their GED and 36 received a high school diploma, Lance said.