For many people, the holiday season brings to mind images of bright light displays, evenings spent in front of a warm fireplace, and gatherings of friends and families. It is a time of good tidings, meant to be shared with loved ones.
But for others, the Christmas season is a painful reminder of being separated from those for whom they care. This is especially true for children who have one or both parents behind bars. For them, the holidays are another reason to feel alone, forgotten, and unloved.
Enter Angel Tree.
Through Angel Tree, these boys and girls are able to receive presents purchased on behalf of their incarcerated parents, as well as a short, age-specific telling of the Gospel. They are reminded that even though they are separated for the holidays, they are still loved, and that their moms and dads have not forgotten them. They are also introduced to a bigger family—a family of faith that is able to encourage and support those in need.
Most importantly, Angel Tree is able to introduce these kids to a Heavenly Father who is always present, even when earthly parents cannot be.
The Gomezes are one such family that has benefited from Angel Tree. When Raquel’s ex-husband was incarcerated, Angel Tree volunteers were able to provide her children with Christmas gifts, as well as a sense that their father was thinking about them.
“They were really excited to go ahead and get presents from Angel Tree,” Raquel says, “because it helps fill the void that they have. All kids, when they’re little, they don’t realize like, ‘OK, why is my mom gone? Why is my dad gone?’ … It does bring them closer [to their incarcerated parent].”
Denise’s 14-year-old daughter remembers receiving a number of gifts through Angel Tree, but she also remembers a more significant gift—one that money cannot buy.
“I learned about Jesus,” she says, “and what I learned was how to accept Him into my life and to love him and who He is.”
“I was surprised when I felt loved,” she concludes.
Across the country, thousands of Angel Tree volunteers are sharing the love of Christ with families like the Gomezes, who are separated during the holidays because of incarceration. To learn how you or your church can be the hands and feet of Jesus this Christmas, visit www.angeltree.org/register.