Eastern State Penitentiary holds its annual toy drive

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A toy drive is underway for children in the region whose parents are incarcerated. 

Eastern State Penitentiary, a former prison turned museum,  is holding it’s annual toy drive.

“Families who have a loved one who is incarcerated experience a certain kind of hardship, especially during this time,” said Thomas Cotton, supervisor of education and community engagement at the Penitentiary.

“In the U.S., there are about 2.7 million children who have a parent that is incarcerated — that is about 1 in 28 children. In Pennsylvania alone we have more than 81,000 children who have a parent who is incarcerated,” he added. 

One of the drive’s partners is Ardella’s House, a re-entry program that helps women behind the walls prepare for life after incarceration.  

“Reunification is so important. The children think that their parents have forgotten about them when they are incarcerated, so it is so important for them to receive these toys for Christmas,” said Tonie Willis the program’s founder. 

The Penitentiary is offering those who drop off a new unwrapped toy or children’s book a buy one, get one free tour admission.

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