With the help of Putnamville Correctional Facility inmates and other inmates statewide, several children will head to school soon with needed supplies.
On Thursday, the Indiana Department of Correction paid a visit to the facility to present a check for $19,054.24 to The Villages, a foster care, adoption and family services agency.
The program, "Project Backpack," began last year with the IDOC attempting to raise money for school supplies to benefit The Villages, the state's largest non-profit foster care provider. In 2005, the program raised more than $6,400, but inmates nearly tripled that amount this year.
The money will go to purchase school supplies and new backpacks for foster children.
Putnamville Correctional Facility Executive Assistant Jim Ebey said inmates at the local facility raised $3,400 through pizza sales -- the most in the state for any facility. In addition, Ebey said facility administration raised $650 through a steak sandwich dinner.
"That's an enormous amount to give back to the community," Ebey said. "(The inmates) were pretty excited about the number they saw."
IDOC Commissioner J. David Donahue said he was "extremely elated" that the program was able to generate that much money.
"We targeted $10,000," Donahue said. "This can have such an impact on communities."
Donahue said IDOC came to Putnamville because it had generated the most funds.
"(Putnamville) was the largest contributor of all the institutions involved in this thing," he said.
"And it wasn't an easy feat to be the largest. This facility would not have done it without the help of the offenders. This is an awesome day."
All 32 correctional facilities and eight parole districts participated in the fundraising drive.
The Villages President and CEO, Sharon Pierce, said her organization was surprised at the amount tallied from the fundraiser.
"We are so, so grateful," Pierce said. "What they've given us is a great deal of hope."
"This money helps our children," added The Villages Director of Development Linda Adams. "We didn't dream of this."
The Villages brought a handful of children to the local facility Thursday and inmates were able to hand-deliver backpacks and various school supplies.
IDOC Media and Public Relations Director Javairya Ahmed said the supplies will benefit more than 500 foster children.
"It's been a phenomenal activity this year," Donahue said. "The supplies are so important."