On Christmas morning, 33 Montville kids awoke to find a bike under the tree, bikes that were once in a junk heap and now are freshly painted, refurbished and looking just like new, better even.
On Christmas morning, four inmates at Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center woke up just as happy because they know they played a part in making Christmas bright for more than 30 local kids.
"That'll be the best part for us," said inmate Michael Squires of Windsor. Squires was joined by inmates (and now bicycle mechanics) Brian Powelson, also of Windsor, Chris Wojcik of Mansfield and Marion Nastalczck of Colchester.
"This is our way of making amends," Powelson added. Each of the men was eager to share their thoughts about the work they've been doing to rebuild and refurbish bikes for needy kids in Montville and surrounding communities.
"They feel good about it, I do know that," said Corrigan-Radgowski officer John Costas who supervises the inmates and the bike program.
Costas and officers Jason Ware and Joe Schoomaker joined Warden Scott Erfe Tuesday morning to deliver the bikes to Montville's social service department for distribution to needy and deserving kids in town. A raffle will decide which kids receive the bikes.
"This is just awesome," said Senior & Social Service director Kathleen "Kathie" Doherty-Peck. Also on hand was Social Services assistant Robin Washington and Montville Mayor Ron McDaniel.
"They do a great job for our kids and we're very grateful," McDaniel said.
The facility’s Bike Rebuild Program is in its second year of operation.
Because it can take the parts from as many as ten old bicycles to make one “new” bicycle, bike donations are always welcome. If anyone is interested in donating bicycles to the Bike Rebuild Program for future restorations, they can be dropped off at the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center, 986 Norwich-New London Turnpike – call (860) 848-5700 to make arrangements.