Detention Center inmates double as elves in Santa’s workshop

Pictured are two of the inmates who worked all year making toys from Santa’s Workshop. The County’s collaborative program celebrates its 27th year of bringing joy to local at-risk children. (Photo Meaghan Krakoff, CCCOE)

For the 27th straight year, representatives from Contra Costa County non-profit agencies helped fulfill Christmas wish lists at the Marsh Creek Detention Facility’s Holiday Toy Show.

The guests could choose from 544 handcrafted toys and 90 bicycles refurbished by the Clayton facility’s inmates.

All of the attendees were awestruck when walking into the woodshop, which had been turned into an elaborate Santa’s workshop. Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) instructor John Putt and some of his adult students displayed the toys among holiday decorations.

County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey and Sheriff David Livingston both spoke to the large gathering about the successful CCCOE accredited shop classes taught onsite.

“This outstanding event always officially kicks off the holidays for me,” Livingston said.

Addressing the inmates, he added: “I want to thank you gentlemen and those before you that have been working diligently on this year-long program.”

All of the toy makers and bike mechanics are students in the Contra Costa Adult School, an accredited school directed by CCCOE, located within the jail facility.

“I too would like to thank our adult students here today,” Mackey said. “Your toy-making and bike-refurbishing skills will certainly make a brighter holiday season for many children throughout our community.”

Non-profit organizations participating in the event included Bay Area Housing District, Bay Area Rescue Mission, Brighter Beginnings, Contra Costa County Independent Living Skills Program, El Cerrito Rotary, Friends of Oakley, Pittsburg Police Department, Shelter Inc., the Salvation Army-Antioch Corps, Shepherd’s Gate, La Casa and VESTIA.