Prisoners, Santa Team Up

Inmates build wooden toys for local children

By Mike Anderson
|  Tuesday, Dec 14, 2010  |  Updated 5:45 PM PDT
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Prisoners, Santa Team Up

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Prisoners at Elmwood Correctional Facility are making toys for the holidays. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)

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Some elves are cranking out toys from behind bars this year.

Inmates at Elmwood Correctional Facility in Milpitas are building wooden trucks, rocking horses and other toys for children as part of the jail's tenth annual woodworking program, the Mercury News Reports.

Tuesday, U.S. Marines transported about 400 completed toys from the jail to the Toys for Tots Foundation, which will send them to kids throughout Santa Clara County.

Inmate Robert Fielder made a replica of a 1928 Chevy pickup. "It's better than sitting in the bunk twiddling your thumbs," Fielder told the paper. 

Only 27 out of 1,500 inmates are participating in the program. They need to be low-risk offenders and they need to earn the right to leave their bunks.

"We want to make good use of this so-called waste of time," inmate Donald Hubbell said.

The inmates have built more than just toys over the years. Back in 2008, they even designed a wooden stage for San Jose's Christmas in the Park.

"It's great that these guys can learn something here and change their lives in a positive way," Correctional Officer Paulo Pereira said. "The real goal is to get them back on the streets to be with their families."

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