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Holiday Toy Drive for Kids with Incarcerated Parents

Eastern State Penitentiary Kicks Off Holiday Season with Toy Drive Benefiting Children with Incarcerated Parents

November 19, 2018

-- Visitors invited to donate toys and children’s books in exchange for “Buy One, Get One Free” admission to the historic site --

Eastern State Penitentiary celebrates this holiday season with a toy drive benefiting local children whose parents are incarcerated. From November 30 through December 21, anyone who donates a new, unwrapped toy or children’s book at the historic site will be granted “Buy One, Get One Free” tour admission.

One in 28 American children has a parent behind bars. In Pennsylvania alone, there are approximately 81,096 children with a parent incarcerated in a Pennsylvania state prison. How can we come together as a community to support families experiencing incarceration during the holidays?

Eastern State Penitentiary partners with Institute for Community Justice, Why Not Prosper, the Center for Returning Citizens, Ardella’s House, and the Philadelphia Department of Prisons to collect gifts for local children with incarcerated parents. From November 30 through December 21, any Eastern State visitor who donates a new toy or children's book, in its original packaging (but please no gift wrap), will be granted a second admission free of charge.

Visitors may drop off donations even if they are not planning to take a tour. Items can also be purchased online and shipped directly to the penitentiary:

ATTN: Toy Drive
Eastern State Penitentiary
2027 Fairmount Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19130


About Institute for Community Justice:

The mission of the Institute for Community Justice is to serve any person impacted by mass incarceration by providing support services that empower those affected to thrive as their fullest selves. ICJ provides prison support and advocacy for incarcerated individuals in Pennsylvania and assists in discharge planning for those transitioning from incarceration to community. ICJ also provides case management and social service referrals, offers life skills learning such as computer literacy, reentry peer support, health matters, financial literacy, parenting and anger management classes, and provides GED support, job readiness training and employment services to returning citizens. The Institute for Community Justice, a program of Philadelphia FIGHT, envisions a world free from mass incarceration where communities have equitable access to health, safety, justice, and the opportunity to design their own freedom.

About Why Not Prosper:

Why Not Prosper helps women from prison systems discover their own strength by providing them with the support and resources that will empower them to become responsible, economically self-sufficient and contributing members of the community. Their programs help women find and retain employment, increase job skills, reunite with their children, abstain from alcohol and illegal drugs, find housing, and not return to prison.

About the Center for Returning Citizens:

The Center for Returning Citizens (TCRC) assists returning citizens in the transition from incarceration to society by providing job training, housing assistance, counseling services, legal aid, and referrals. TCRC helps individuals, families and communities with the adverse impacts of incarceration. TCRC’s focus with Youth Outreach is to impact at-risk children, especially those who have parents that are incarcerated and may be heading down that very path. They have groups for teens, an after school Drop In Center for younger children (3rd to 8th grade), and individual counseling. It is TCRC’s desire to nurture and provide a caring environment to assist parents in raising healthy, happy children.

About Ardella’s House:

Ardella’s House is a transitional program established to address pressing issues of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women. The program is designed to help women assess their strengths and needs while guiding them as they think about their goals and how to reach them. Development of each woman’s service plan includes an assessment of immediate needs and her history and goals related to livelihood, housing, health and well-being, family reunification, and criminal justice compliance. Ardella’s House relentlessly seeks to empower the women they serve to help them take back their lives, confidence, and their families.

About Philadelphia Department of Prisons:

The Philadelphia Department of Prisons works to provide a secure correctional environment that adequately detains persons accused or convicted of illegal acts; to provide programs, services, and supervision in a safe, lawful, clean, humane environment; and to prepare incarcerated persons for reentry into society in a frame of mind that will facilitate their becoming law-abiding citizens.

About Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site:

Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world's first true "penitentiary," a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of prisoners. Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America's most notorious criminals, including bank robber "Slick Willie" Sutton and Al Capone.

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site is located at 22nd Street and Fairmount Avenue, just five blocks from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The penitentiary is open seven days a week, year round. When purchasing online, admission is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $10 for students and children ages 7-12. When purchasing at the door, admission is $16, $14, and $12, respectively. (Not recommended for children under the age of seven.) Admission includes “The Voices of Eastern State" Audio Tour, narrated by actor Steve Buscemi; Hands-On History interactive experiences; history exhibits; and a critically acclaimed series of artist installations. For more information and schedules, the public should call (215) 236-3300 or visit


2017 American Aliance of Museums Excellence in Exhibitions Overall Winner