ANGOLA, LA — With Christmas just a few weeks away Santa needs all the help he can get to make sure boys and girls get the gifts they want.
"They are elves. There are a lot of kids who wouldn't have a Christmas if it wasn't for us," says Angola inmate Tom Joyner.
But these elves don't live at the North Pole. They're inmates at Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola. One of them is Tom Joyner. He remembers his first bicycle. He and all the rest of Santa's helpers want to make sure that same experience is special for kids right here in Louisiana.
"Quite often when they're building it they're thinking this will be the child's first bike to them. It's a momentous occasion," says inmate Albert Hills.
But it's not just kids here in Louisiana that the inmates are helping. Nearby about half a dozen inmates spent the year repairing 200 wheelchairs that are now on their way to needy families in the Dominican Republic.
"I think the best thing is giving back and when we give back for people that can't do for themselves, if we give them a sense of independence and I think we all like to have our independence," says Hills.
But the people receiving the wheelchairs aren't the only ones who benefit.
"When I look at those pictures and see some of the smiles we put on people's face. It gives me a sense of enjoyment knowing that I played a part in that," says Hills.