Every year, hundreds of thousands of inmates who otherwise couldn’t provide Christmas gifts for their children do so through Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree program. In 2012, some Arizona inmates decided to give back – in the amount of $3,300.
La Palma Correctional Center, a prison privately operated by the Corrections Corporation of America, houses 3,100 men in several compounds. In 2011, says Chaplain James Brunk, one in six inmates signed their children up for Angel Tree, so the men have come to know and value how the program enables them to connect with their families. When Compound 2 held a fundraising food sale – offering items like slices from Pizza Hut and hamburgers from MacDonald’s for sale to inmates – an inmate advisory council selected Angel Tree as the charity to receive the proceeds.
According to Chaplain Brunk, Angel Tree has been an important part of inmate life at Palma since shortly after the facility opened in July 2008. There, designated elders and deacons of the inmate church play an important role in advertising and administering the program.
“The second year that we had Angel Tree,” explains Chaplain Brunk, I turned around to [the inmate church leaders] and said,’ Here is a wonderful opportunity for you to bless the inmates around you … You should be letting guys know this is here to be a blessing.’ The inmates themselves got really excited about it.”