Inmates Make Toys For Underprivileged Kids
12/12/2011
WHAG-TV - Online

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CUMBERLAND, MD - They've been hard at work all year making toys. They've made 1,500 toys this year, and they're all going to underprivileged kids.

But they aren't Santa's helpers. They're inmates working at Western Correctional Institution.

"I made some bad choices in my life and I'm trying to make amends, and I feel as though this is a start," says inmate Christopher Chew.

He's been in a wheelchair since a car accident three years ago. He was driving. His fiance was killed. "I gotta live with that," he says. "And we have a child together."

He was charged with vehicular manslaughter. His five-year-old son lives with his parents.

"My mom is taking care of him, so eventually I have to explain to him what happened to his mom," he says.

As he makes the toys, he thinks of his son.

"He's grateful, my mom takes care of him," Chew says. "And he gets pretty much what he wants."

The inmates make wooden toys in various designs: rabbits, trucks, ducks, and a car. They try to make toys for both boys and girls. And that's how they came up with a swan idea for the girls.

"These toys are going to underprivileged children through charities throughout the area," says office supervisor Debbie Kisamore. "We have 6 charities this year that are going to receive 900 toys."

Making the toys is a gift to the inmates, as well.

"I feel just because I've made so many mistakes in my life that maybe I can make up for it in a way," Chew says.

Making those toys is one of the only work activities for inmates in wheelchairs to do. Just two handicapped inmates and one helper made all the toys this year.