Alex Pendergrass, left, and Steffon Scott, both inmates at Lebanon Correctional Institution (LeCI) pack boxes with new toys that were donated to the United State Marine Corps Toys for Tots program. Inmates at the prison raised over $5,200 through fundraisers at the prison. The staff bought toys ranging from dolls to bikes. The Enquirer/Cara Owsley
Steven Chorvas regrets not being there on Christmas morning for his own children and grandchildren.
But now Chorvas, an inmate at the Lebanon Correctional Institution, is hoping to make Christmas brighter for other needy children.
Chorvas is one of dozens of inmates who’ve helped to raise more than $5,200 to benefit the Butler-Warren County Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots. The toys were officially given to the Marines on Wednesday.
“It’s a way of stepping up and taking some responsibility for somebody’s kid out there,” said Chorvas, a former Marine now serving 23 years to life for murder. “Every person out there needs somebody to think about them and look out for them even if they don’t know them.”
This is the sixth year for the partnership, which is spearheaded and organized by prison military veterans groups with assistance from prison staff. The first year in 2007, only employees donated.
Inmates organize year round within prison walls to hold fundraising events, such as selling pizza or doughnuts, or by offering inmates the chance to take a photo of themselves to send home to family and friends.
Prisoners pay out of their limited commissary funds and money earned on work details. Their efforts raise between $5,000-$7,000 a year, which staff then use to purchase toys.
“From a prison management perspective and as a warden, you’re constantly striving to get inmates to do positive things,” said Warden Ernie Moore. “They’re getting together and talking about ways they can raise money to give to a bunch of needy kids in the community. That’s a win-win.”
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