LOUISIANA STATE PENITENTIARY, LA (WVLA) — There's a little place where Christmas magic is made at Louisiana State Penitentiary. It's called the "Toy Shop." It's a place where inmates can donate their spare time to help create toys and other gifts for kids who otherwise may not get a Christmas gift.
"All though we are incarcerated we have been afforded the opportunity to do something productive with our lives. Something that is meaningful," Thomas Joyner, inmate and coordinator of the toy shop stated. "Just knowing we can make children happy during Christmas is payment in itself."
Inmates take scraps of wood donated to them to build gifts that law enforcement groups, churches, and charities give away during the holidays.
"It helps you pass time, but you pass time in a good way when you're helping somebody else that needs a little help," Peter Moule, vice coordinator of the toy shop and inmate, said.
"It's a really great way that we can show that we have some moral rehabilitation programs going on here that don't cost us a thing. Scrap material is made into toys that can put a smile on a kids face," Cathy Fontenot, Assistant Warden Louisiana State Penitentiary, said.
Inmates work all year round just to make enough toys to fill the orders.
"Everybody gets on the same page. It's quick you make a quality product in numbers," Moule said.
Inmates say the hard work is worth it knowing they can help make Christmas a little brighter for kids in need.
"Several of the people that come and gets them say if it wasn't for us they wouldn't get toys these children in their areas, so that's a good bonus icing on the cake," Moule said.
Inmates can also volunteer their time to refurbish bikes in the bike shop to go along with the toys.
Joyner estimates the toy shop gives away around 5,000 toys a year and the bike shop gives away around 300 bikes a year.