45 bikes for Christmas, thanks to DVI inmates

By Harry C. Goodall Jr.

Prisoners at Deuel Vocational Institution (DVI) made sure 45 kids got bikes for Christmas.

DVI inmates rebuilt the bikes for the Boys & Girls Club of Tracy, reported the Tracy Press. The bike-refurbishing program has been going for five years now, and has grown steadily each year.

About 20 inmates in the prison’s vocational auto body repair program refurbished the bikes, which come from salvage yards and from the Tracy Police Department.

Inmates choose from a collection of bikes and completely refurbish them by stripping, painting and replacing whatever items are needed. 

“You hear about a lot of toy drives or bike drives with new bikes,” Lt. Christine Zoucha, spokeswoman for DVI, said. “The purpose of this is to take something that could have been junk or disposed of and then teaching (inmates) new skills…When we deliver the bikes to the auto body area, they are like little kids. They get so excited. … You can tell it is truly an endeavor of love.” 

“I would rate their work a 10,” said Steve Macias, teacher of the auto-body repair class. “They repaired them and cleaned them up. They spent hours polishing the chrome with steel wool, hours sanding it down to the metal, primering and then painting.”      

One inmate, a welder by trade, created a custom-made super-hero Batman bike. The bat sign was made with sheet metal with a custom paint job. 

Once refurbished, the bikes were sent via correctional officers and the Tracy Police Department to the Richard O. Hastie Clubhouse. Tracy’s seven Boys & Girls Clubs gave out the Christmas bikes, reported the Tracy Press.

In addition to the bikes, inmates also created and carved more than 50 wooden toy cars for the clubs.

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