Dulce's father was absent for most of her childhood. He was consistently in and out of prison on drug charges. "I didn't like him because I didn't know him," she says. "To me, my dad was like my uncle."
Dulce's mother did her best to provide for her family, but they lived in poverty. Life was hard on the children, but there was one bright spot every year: at Christmas, they would receive presents from their father through Angel Tree®.
Angel Tree, a program of Prison Fellowship®, serves incarcerated parents by providing a pathway for restoring and strengthening their relationships with their children and families. Prison Fellowship mobilizes local churches and community organizations to give hundreds of thousands of children a gift, the Gospel message, and a personal message of love on behalf of their incarcerated parent.
That first Christmas with Angel Tree, one of the gifts Dulce received was a doll she desperately wanted. That doll softened her heart toward her father because "Those were his presents for me."
For the next 12 years, churches and individuals made sure that Dulce received Christmas gifts from her father. Those were the only presents she received.
IT STARTS WITH A GIFT
Prisoners' children often wonder, Does my mommy still love me? Does my Daddy even remember me anymore? Your generosity helps provide a child a Christmas gift and a joyful moment of connection with an incarcerated parent. That memory can last a lifetime—and for many families, it can pave the way to restored relationships that continue beyond December.
This Giving Tuesday, thanks to a special matching grant, every $20 you give will be DOUBLED to bless two prisoners' children with a wonderful surprise for Christmas—a gift chosen for them by their incarcerated parent, along with a note to remind each child that they are loved and haven't been forgotten.
Through Angel Tree, Dulce's mother found a church home. Because of generous donors and caring volunteers, Dulce's family embraced the love of Christ and began to follow Him.
These days Dulce is on the other side of Angel Tree as a volunteer liaison to families impacted by incarceration. "I want to continue doing that for kids with incarcerated parents," she says. "I want to be able to serve in giving them the joy of a gift."
It's a sentiment Dulce shares with her father, who wrote to Prison Fellowship expressing gratitude for the role Angel Tree has played in his relationship with his daughter: "Being in your program has been a great blessing. I feel so thankful for what you've done to help me and my family."
And it all started with a gift. Who will your gift bless?