Cumberland Prison Staff and Inmates Make Sure Underprivileged Kids Get Special Toys This Holiday Season
At Western Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Warden Phil Morgan, Assistant Warden Dr. Harry Murphy and the Case Management staff had a great idea: let inmates who wanted to do something special for kids around the holidays make some toys. 84 Lumber in nearby LaVale donated wood, the Maryland Correctional Enterprises plant donated shop space and the use of some tools, and before you knew it, the idea was off and running in a big way.
This month, the labor of love by inmates in that shop produced a wonderful result: dozens of toy trucks, cars, planes, animals, rocking horses, and even ironing boards and irons, that were given to a Garrett County charity.
"Our children mostly come from challenging home situations," says Tricia Cheesman, the director of Garrett Mentors, who came with her husband Bill to pick up the toys. "The children may or may not have Christmas gifts."
The Cheesmans took 100 toys with them; more will be handed out to other charities.
“They are given out to underprivileged children throughout the area, and we also give them to the Maryland State Police to keep in their cruisers for accident victims," says Debra Kisamore, office supervisor for the WCI Case Management department.
Three inmates have been making the toys, using templates and their own imaginations, making sure each finished product is child-friendly, with smooth edges, working wheels, and easily rocking platforms.
"I'm enjoying doing what I'm doing, because I know it's for children," says WCI inmate Renard Ingram, who works on as many as 70 toys a day from his wheelchair. "We try to put all our best efforts in doing that."
“It’s a blessing,” adds fellow inmate Timothy Bolden, who has taken advantage of many programs designed to help inmates who want to change become ready for a return to society. Bolden has also worked on another tremendous WCI project: inmates have sewn more than 2,000 pillowcases for a foundation that delivers them to children’s cancer wards.
Congratulations to all the staff and inmate participants at WCI for an outstanding effort that will make a lot of children happy this holiday season.