POLK CITY, Fla. -- Each wooden toy that Toys for Tots of Polk County gives out is unique.
They’re each made by hand from the hands of prisoners.
Ten inmates volunteer to participate in the woodworking program at the Polk Correctional Institution. They make around 1,000 toys each year, from dollhouses to trucks and rocking chairs.
Graddie Atwood is one of them. He has less than a year left in a six-year sentence for drug dealing.
“I try to put myself in the mind of a child, because they all have their own personalities,” he said while painting a wooden puzzle.
It’s not hard for him to imagine what a kid would want. His five kids will celebrate Christmas without him.
“I could be doing this for them, but instead I’m in here doing this for somebody else because of the choices I made,” Atwood said. “I’m making sure somebody else’s kids get Christmas, and I don’t know if mine are struggling or not with their Christmas.”
Dave Waller, the director of Polk County’s Toys for Tots, visited the inmate volunteers on Monday.
“We’ve had families come pick up these toys, and parents will actually cry,” Waller told them.
Atwood will never hear the kids he makes toys for say thank you. Their parents might not want them to meet him anyway, but he said that doesn’t matter.
“As long as I know they got it, that’s all that matters,” he explained.
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