People in a warehouse in Rancho Cordova are getting ready to give clothing, toys and bicycles to more than 2,000 families in Sacramento County for Christmas.
In one room, there are stacks 20-high of warm winter jackets. In another, there are giant, orange sacks with toys and clothes. And then there is the room with literally a thousand bicycles.
Records Officer Cynthia Garcia is the Sacramento Sheriff’s Toy Project coordinator. She says the bicycles come new, used, or in disrepair.
"We get em from the park rangers," Garcia says. "They know about us. They'll come in and donate the bikes. If there are bikes that are just really mangled, we will cannibalize the parts and use them on other bikes. What we don't use or what we can't use, we recycle. We take the money and buy new bikes.
The bikes are repaired by volunteers and by people in the Sheriff's work-release program.
"Instead of being on the side of the road, it teaches them how to budget, how to do their resume, how to find jobs so they will be a productive member of society," Garcia says.
This is Garcia's 12th year with the program. She was assigned by the department, but didn't have to stay. When asked why she stayed, she got a little choked up.
"I kind of like it," she said, with her voice wavering. "It's rewarding."
In addition to the clothes, toys, and bikes, the inmates and staff also make about 50 hand-carved wooden toy puzzles.
Project staff, deputies, and volunteers will spend the next two weeks collecting donations from local businesses who have made supporting the project a part of their holiday season.
Last year, the department provided a little extra Christmas to more than 6,200 children.