By Brenda L. Holmes
The staff at the Plainfield Correctional Facility completed a project this week that ended with Santa visiting schools all over Hendricks County.
Starting a few months ago, the staff helped organize a “Toys for Tots” type program for local families in need of a little extra cheer. The staff contacted elementary schools across the county to find out who needed some help. Then the names and requests from students were placed on a tree in the facility’s lobby.
Phil Slavens, assistant superintendent of Re-Entry at the Plainfield Correctional Facility, has been participating in the program for many years.
“Staff members sign up to purchase the wishes for the kids,” Slavens said. “It really makes you think. I had a kindergarten student that asked for socks, underwear, and pajamas. It almost breaks your heart.”
Donations were also made by offenders from the facility, Duke Energy, and Aramark Foods. Several other groups also pitched in where they could.
Lindsay Measal assists Slavens on communications for the facility.
“We will deliver the gifts to schools across the county — Avon, Brownsburg, Danville, and Plainfield,” she said. “Other groups like Kairos also donated.”
Deb Higgins coordinated the project for the staff.
“This weekend I came in on Saturday and wrapped presents with my family,” Higgins said. “It was a good time. Delivering the gifts and visiting the schools is so much fun.”
George Shepherd works for the facility by coordinating the Oakland City University programs. He has been helping to deliver gifts since 2000.
“It really is fun to see the looks on their faces,” he said.
Deliveries for 128 students in 17 elementary schools were made Wednesday morning with a little help from Santa.
The gifts were dropped off at each school’s office then, if the building’s administrator wanted an extra visitor, Santa would greet students and staff.
“This really is the right thing to do,” Slavens said. “It’s a great program.”