Angel Tree

Angel Tree Children Receive Their Gifts

By Rebekah L. Stratton | Posted December 16, 2014
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Three-year-old Sy’Ryah attended Huber Memorial Church’s Angel Tree party in Baltimore on Dec. 13.

With Christmas just around the corner, thousands of churches throughout the U.S. are busy hosting Angel Tree parties to share gifts and Gospel with local children of prisoners. The children’s faces are lighting up with joy when they hear that their gifts came from their mom or dad in prison because they love them and miss them! And the kids’ caregivers are thankful to Angel Tree supporters for spreading the Christmas cheer.

Just last week, Angel Tree received a thank-you note from a mom named Megan.

She says, “I just wanted to express my gratitude for all that the Angel Tree organization does for the children. My four children received gifts through the Angel Tree program from their father who was incarcerated for seven years. It meant so much to them to receive a gift from their dad who they were only able to see a few times a year. Our local church that sponsored the program did a wonderful job of putting together a lunch and program that comforted both the children and the spouses/families of the prisoners. Thank you for bringing some joy into a very difficult time for these families.”

Angel Tree is touching lives all over the country.

A 5-year-old boy named Sage in Utah is missing his dad who’s been in prison for over four years. But on Christmas Eve, Angel Tree will give him and his two siblings a reminder that their father loves them. Sage remembers his Angel Tree gift from last year’s party: “I got a Transformer shirt from Dad.”

And Cindy Williams, a missions coordinator for her church in Texas, is mailing each incarcerated parent a Christmas card that their child made for them at the church’s Angel Tree party this year. What an amazing way to help moms and dads behind bars feel more connected to their kids this season!

A church Angel Tree coordinator named Bonetta Hudson held an Angel Tree party on Thursday night at the Living Word Church of God. She explains why she serves the families of the incarcerated: “It impacted my kids. My kids are in their 30′s now and they still remember the gifts that they got the two years I was incarcerated. It has a long-lasting effect.”

Thank you to all the Angel Tree partners, volunteers, and supporters who are sharing God’s love with kids in your communities this Christmas season!

The Miracle of Angel Tree

By Jim Liske | Posted December 15, 2014

Liske_154Angel Tree blesses hundreds of thousands of children each year, but did you know that it also leads their incarcerated parents closer to Jesus?

At a time of year that can be full of sorrow for parents separated from their children, Angel Tree allows moms and dads to reach out from behind prison bars with a message of love for their families. As friends like you enable them to have a moment of connection, wounded hearts begin to heal from the pain and shame of the past.

A prison chaplain in California wrote to me just last month to let me know the difference Angel Tree makes for the men in his facility, but his words of thanks really go to you:

“The gift of Angel Tree for the men here comes from your organization, and it is a huge blessing. These men are separated from their children and broken-hearted. You help heal some of those wounds with the miracle of Angel Tree. I love how your ministry follows up with the families who receive Angel Tree donations and benefits from hearing the good news and being connected to a church family. God bless all of you and from the men here … a huge Thank YOU! Keep doing what you are doing.”

The Angel Tree program helps chaplains build bridges of trust with prisoners, who may become more open to asking for a Bible or attending a chapel service once they see that people like you truly care for them and their families. Your investment in Angel Tree keeps paying off all year long, with parents as well as children!

To learn more about Angel Tree and how you can help, visit www.angeltree.org.

SPECIAL OFFER: Order ‘The Special Guest’ and Support Angel Tree

By Jason Bruce | Posted December 11, 2014

Lee Allen, author of the popular book  The Special Guest: A Christmas Story, and his wife Donna Campbell Allen (the illustrator for The Special Guest) are sponsoring Angel Tree this Christmas season. The Allens‘ goal is to raise $100,000 through a promotion called the “12 Days Before Christmas: $100K Challenge.”

Twenty years ago the Allens sponsored Angel Tree with their first self-published edition distributed locally in their hometown of Richmond, Virginia. From that local success they donated $6,500 to Angel Tree. Now with the release of the 20th Anniversary Edition, the Allens have set a challenge to donate $100,000 to Angel Tree.

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‘Remembering When’

By Rebekah L. Stratton | Posted December 11, 2014

When Richard Braceful went away to prison, he felt like he had failed his wife and kids. Selena, his wife, struggled as she transitioned into being the family’s breadwinner. And their daughter, Jozelyn, worried that her dad didn’t love her because he wasn’t around.

But when Christmas came, God gave the Bracefuls encouragement through Angel Tree volunteers. Jozelyn received Christmas gifts on behalf of her dad, and she knew everything would be OK.

Hear the Bracefuls tell their story, and see what the family is doing now to give back, serve others, and bring glory to God:

If the video does not play, click here to view it.

Christmas is two weeks away, but it’s not too late to join Angel Tree in serving the children of incarcerated moms and dads! See how you can help.

Do You Live in an Underserved County? (UPDATE: 12/9)

By Prison Fellowship | Posted December 10, 2014

Every year, Prison Fellowship assists churches in ministering to the families of incarcerated parents through its Angel Tree program.  Angel Tree is a ministry that reaches out to the children of inmates and their families with the love of Christ, offering churches an opportunity to share Christ’s love by serving the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the families of prisoners.

During the Christmas season, local church volunteers purchase and deliver gifts and the Gospel to children in the name of their parent behind bars.  Thousands of families are served every year by church members who generously give of their time and resources.

Unfortunately, the opportunities to minister through Angel Tree often exceed the number of volunteers in certain areas.  Below are the 50 counties in the country with the largest number of children signed-up for the Angel Tree program that are not yet assigned to a church:

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ThanksMas

By Jim Liske | Posted December 10, 2014

   My wife Cathy’s family calls this time of year ThanksMas. As Cathy’s brothers married, and we all moved away and starting having kids, her family made up this holiday to create a time to gather. The meal consists of both Thanksgiving and Christmas fare, and we give gifts. We play games and enjoy a weekend together without the pressure of needing to leave and visit with other relatives.

I have always enjoyed ThanksMas because it combines the focus of thanksgiving on what I am the most thankful for: Jesus, God with us. Our Heavenly Father, in His empathic love, came to us and pursued us, so that we could become part of His family. All else I am thankful for in this life flows from that supreme act of kindness.

As we move into the Angel Tree Christmas season, Cathy and I are eager to share about God’s great gift with the children and families of incarcerated parents. As we reflect on His generosity to us during this season, it seems only natural to share the Good News with the most vulnerable among us. The message that has been giving hope to the hopeless for two millennia is no less powerful today!

If you’ve been wanting to get involved in Angel Tree this Christmas, it’s not too late. Learn more about opportunities to give and serve by calling 1-800-55-ANGEL today. And have a Happy ThanksMas!

A Letter of Thanks

By Steve Rempe | Posted December 9, 2014

Every year, Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree program provides the children of prisoners with gifts on behalf of their incarcerated parents.  With the help of churches, church coordinators, and volunteers, these kids are reminded that they are loved by their mothers and fathers behind bars, and that they have a Heavenly Father who provided them with the ultimate Christmas gift—a Child, born in a manger, who would take away the sin of the world.

Recently, one of our partner churches received the following letter in the mail (click letter to enlarge):

AT Letter Full

For those of you who have contributed your time, gifts, and support to Angel Tree this Christmas season, thank you!  Know that your efforts are having an eternal impact in the lives of prisoners and their families across the country.  If you would like to get your church involved in Angel Tree this year, there is still time!  Visit www.angeltree.org/registration to find out how you can register your church.  (Deadline is December 16).  And if you would like to contribute to Angel Tree to help ensure that all registered children receive a gift from their parent and the Good News about Jesus, click here.

The Origins of Angel Tree

By Steve Rempe | Posted December 2, 2014

For over 30 years, Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree program has been providing children Christmas gifts on behalf of their mothers and fathers in prison, as well as a simple message about God’s love and forgiveness.  Through Angel Tree, families have been restored, kids have been encouraged, and the Gospel has been proclaimed.

But have you ever wondered how Angel Tree came to be?  The unlikely story starts with a bank robber on the FBI’s most wanted list.

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Love and Warmth for Prisoners’ Children

By Alyson R. Quinn | Posted December 2, 2014
ASIFE/thinkstock.com

ASIFE/thinkstock.com

Pam Goettel still cries when she talks about the room: a stained mattress on the bare floor, covered by ragged blankets and a pillow Pam “wouldn’t let her dog sleep on;” someone’s cast-off, rabbit-eared television set; and a scrawny evergreen branch propped against the window, decorated with a single ornament the prisoner’s daughter had made in school.

Pam and her husband, Tom, had waded through deep drifts of snow in the unshoveled driveway to visit the little girl, her brother, and their mother. Their progress had been slowed by bags full of Christmas gifts—presents given on behalf of the children’s dad in prison.

Pam and Tom have made similar treks for more than a decade. Every year, Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree program matches them with an average of 72 children in need of a deeper connection with their incarcerated parent and their Heavenly Father.

The members of the Goettels’ church—Lake Huron Community Church in East Tawas, Michigan—started out delivering two gifts per child, but soon Pam realized that children needed help to stay warm during the frigid winters near Lake Huron. She and the church-based sewing club started making quilts to deliver to every Angel Tree boy and girl, along with hats, mittens or gloves, slippers, small gifts for caregivers, and a Bible or age-appropriate Christmas storybook.

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No Church Too Small

By Rebekah L. Stratton | Posted November 26, 2014

Ilene and Peter Ray James live in Grants, New Mexico, where they attend a church with a congregation of 17 people. But the six families of Victory Church of God know that although they are small in number, God has equipped them to share the Gospel in big ways.

Ilene serves as an Angel Tree area coordinator, and her husband, Peter Ray, serves as the Angel Tree church coordinator and a pastor for Victory.

Peter Ray says, “We are a very little church, with a very large heart!”

Ilene and her daughter hand out gifts underneath the sign they made with all 13 names of their church's assigned Angel Tree children.

Ilene hands out gifts underneath a sign with all 13 names of their church’s assigned Angel Tree children. Ilene loves baking and decorating for Victory Church of God’s Angel Tree Christmas party.

Last year, Victory Church of God served 13 local children of prisoners with the Gospel message and gifts on behalf of their incarcerated parents. That’s more than two children per church family! This year, Victory is serving all nine eligible Angel Tree children in their area.

Each year, Victory throws an Angel Tree Christmas party a few Sundays before Christmas. They invite the Angel Tree children and their families to attend the church service, where they hear how much God loves them. Then they all enjoy a meal together and a fun time of gifts and treats.

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