The holiday spirit of giving showcased at the Marsh Creek Detention Facility

The holiday spirit of giving showcased at the Marsh Creek Detention Facility
Posted on 11/22/2019

County’s collaborative program celebrates its 27th year of bringing joy to local at-risk children

CLAYTON, Calif., November 21, 2019 – For the 27th straight year, a number of representatives from Contra Costa County non-profit agencies were on hand today for the annual Marsh Creek Detention Facility’s Holiday Toy Show to fulfill children’s Christmas wish lists. The representatives were able to choose from numerous newly handcrafted toys and bicycles refurbished by the facility’s inmates. These gifts will then be given to the children who are being served by these agencies during the upcoming holidays.

All of the attendees were absolutely awestruck when walking into the Detention Center’s woodshop, which had been turned into an elaborate, colorful Santa’s Workshop. Coordinated by Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) instructor John Putt and with the help of some of his adult students, their beautiful bicycles and toys were on display among Holiday decorations. Joining the non-profit-agency representatives were Contra Costa County’s Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey and Sheriff David Livingston, as well as numerous representatives from both agencies to celebrate this longtime partnership that benefits the community.

Both Superintendent Mackey and Sheriff Livingston spoke to the large gathering about the extremely successful partnership of the CCCOE’s accredited shop classes being taught in a Contra Costa County Detention Facility.

 “This outstanding event always officially kicks off the holidays for me,” said Sheriff Livingston. During his offer of gratitude to a number of attendees, he added a special message, addressing the inmates, who were also present at the event and had recently been working on the toys and bikes, “I want to thank you gentlemen and those before you that have been working diligently on this year-long program.”

“We always appreciate coming together annually with the Sheriff’s Department with this special project,” said Superintendent Mackey. “But, not only the Holiday Toy Show, we also celebrate the numerous school programs we help run throughout the year in all three of the Sheriff’s Detention Centers. And, I too, would like to thank our adult students, here today. Your toy-making and bike-refurbishing skills will certainly make a brighter Holiday Season for many children throughout our community.”

Contra Costa County non-profit organizations participating in this special 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, Inc.

This year, these organizations were able to choose from more than 544 handcrafted toys and 90 bicycles refurbished by inmates from the facility. These toys and bikes are being donated to children served by these organizations for the upcoming holidays. A dedicated group of Marsh Creek Detention Facility inmates have been working on this project for the past year. They have been extremely busy fixing up used bikes to look and ride like brand new, and crafting colorful and beautiful wooden toys, such as, motorcycle rocking chairs, spinning carousels, cars, doll houses, baby cradles, toy tractors, train sets, and more. All of the toy makers and/or bike mechanics are students in the Contra Costa Adult School, an accredited school directed by the CCCOE, located within the jail facility.

The students have produced many great toys using their hearts, minds, and hands to create tangible products,” says instructor John Putt. “Many inmates are very proud of their work and proud their products are going to under-served children.” After the toy project is completed, Putt said that he would be back teaching basic carpentry skills, along with more specific proficiencies, such a framing and installing sheet rock. Of course, they will also make time to begin building toys and refurbishing used bikes for next year.


During the 2018-19 school year, 3,217 adult inmates (throughout the three Contra Costa detention facilities) were enrolled in classes ranging from academic programs, including basic literacy and GED or HiSET high school equivalency preparation to vocational programs, including woodshop, construction, and state-of-the-art computer training. By the end of the school year, 20 student inmates received their high school equivalency certificate (Hi SET) and 18 earned a high school diploma. In addition, there were 237 students who demonstrated learning gains in reading or math, and 322 students were awarded a certificate of completion in computer applications. Another course directed by the CCCOE is the DEUCE Program (Deciding, Educating, Understanding, Counseling, and Evaluation). These three-part classes (90 days) focus on substance abuse prevention. Last year, 91 students completed at least one of the three phases, and 483 students graduated from the DEUCE program. In addition, courses are offered to teach vital parenting skills to women and men, with 127 certificates issued last school year through the COPE: Counseling Options and Parent Education or Parenting Inside/Out programs. Finally, the CCCOE’s Reentry Program offers workforce readiness, career exploration, soft-skills workshops, and a nine-week cognitive-behavior-change program called Transitions. These classes help to provide education and skills needed for successful transition back into the community. During the 2018 -19 school year, there had been 301 inmates served by the Reentry Program, at all three facilities.

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