Brian Stevens, an inmate at the Missouri River Correctional Center south of Bismarck, makes sure the gears are in working order on a bicycle he is cleaning and repairing as part of the annual Christmas Playpen program on Tuesday. The annual program benefits less fortunate children and families with toys and clothing distributed next month by Bismarck-Mandan Salvation Army. For more photos, go to bismarcktribune.com

The Christmas Playpen program has collected 190 bikes and more than 200 toys for families in need this holiday season.

The program is sponsored by the Salvation Army, the North Dakota State Penitentiary, The Bismarck Tribune, Go Mini's storage, Sullivan's Portable Storage, Epic Sports, Dan's Supermarket and Trans-Trash.

From Nov. 3 to Nov. 24, people dropped off used toys and bikes at Dan's Supermarket in south Bismarck. The bikes were then brought to the state penitentiary, the Missouri River Correctional Center and the Dakota Women's Correctional and Rehabilitation Center to be repaired by inmates.

Joey Joyce, deputy warden at Missouri River Correctional Center, said about 75 percent of the bikes have been repaired by six men who volunteered for the program this year. From 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day, the inmates could work on the bikes. 

"Inmates have to apply, and we look for people who kind of want to give back, versus just getting an institutional job," Joyce said, adding that inmates will paint bikes, repair seats, tires, rims and handlebars.

The number of bikes donated this year is comparable to recent years, Joyce said. Scheels also donated items such as  bicycle seats, handlebar grips and tires.

Repaired bikes will be dropped off at the Salvation Army on Dec. 8. The toys and bikes will be distributed at the Salvation Army Joy Shop from Dec. 12-15.

(Reach Blair Emerson at 701-250-8251 or Blair.Emerson@bismarcktribune.com)


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