By Paul Kurtz

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Eastern State Penitentiary has launched the third annual toy drive for children of the incarcerated.

There are more than one and a half million people behind bars in this country and many have left behind a huge population of offspring.

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Hannah Zellman, Director of Philadelphia Fight’s Institute for Community Justice, says in Philadelphia alone there are about 30,000 children who have at least one parent doing time, which means they are serving another kind of sentence.

“One of loss, one of loneliness and one of stigmatization. That kind of distance and that kind of fracturing of connection is traumatic for children, their caretakers in the community and for their parents who are incarcerated.”

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ICJ is spearheading the drive to collect toys over the next couple of weeks. Eastern State Penitentiary Senior VP Sean Kelly says they’re offering an incentive for those who take part.

“Visitors will get a buy one-get one free admission. So bring a toy and bring a friend. Leave a toy and you and your friend can tour Eastern State Penitentiary.”

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Items should be new and in their original packaging. Organizers ask that you do not wrap the presents. The toys will be handed out during the Institutes annual children’s party on December 15th.