If the changing leaves and cooler temperatures across much of the country are any indication, winter is coming. Soon, thoughts will turn to the holidays and the joys that come with having friends and families together for Christmastime.
But for 2.7 million children with at least one parent behind bars, the reality is quite different. Separated from their loved ones, many of these kids will struggle with feelings of abandonment, wondering if mom or dad will remember them this Christmas.
This is where Angel Tree comes in.
Last year, over 300,000 boys and girls received Christmas gifts from their incarcerated parents through Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree program. They were reminded that they are loved, both by their mom or dad in prison, and also by their Heavenly Father.
In this week’s Prison Fellowship Insider, Prison Fellowship President and CEO James Ackerman explains the importance of Angel Tree in serving families affected by incarceration. “When a father or mother goes to prison, it often has devastating economic effects on their household,” he says. “It is not uncommon that the Christmas gift that child receives from you, through the Angel Tree program this Christmas, will be the only Christmas gift they see, because, quite simply, the household can’t otherwise afford it.”
But the benefits of the Angel Tree program extend beyond the children. By connecting parents to their children, hearts are changed, and family ties are reconnected and strengthened. “I have seen few things soften the heart of a hardened criminal more than the realization that a complete stranger—on his or her behalf—went out, purchased a Christmas gift, and delivered it for him or her to his or her child,” Ackerman says.
There is still a need for churches to sign up for Angel Tree this year. If you and your church would like to be a part of reconnecting families and sharing the love of Christ in a very real and tangible way, visit https://www.prisonfellowship.org/about/angel-tree/register/ and sign up to make sure that kids in your community know that they are loved by their moms and dads in prison.