Many organizations have a mission to help children in need. What makes Prison Fellowship's Angel Tree unique?
Eight-year-old Jamie stood, mouth agape, by a stranger's car in his driveway. Kind volunteers from a local church pulled presents from the open trunk. They handed them one by one to Jamie and his older brother, George. First-grader Jamie was too young to understand what his dad faced in prison, but old enough to recognize a Christmas miracle.
"These are from your father!" said one volunteer. Jamie and George erupted with delight as their mom watched nearby.
"How did he do that?" the boys said over and over. Later, Jamie learned the answer was Angel Tree®, a program of Prison Fellowship®. He says that embracing those gifts was the closest thing to wrapping his arms around his dad.
HOW IS PRISON FELLOWSHIP DIFFERENT FROM OTHER ORGANIZATIONS?
Since 1982, Prison Fellowship's Angel Tree has mobilized countless volunteers across the country to specifically serve prisoners and their families. There are 2.7 million children with a parent behind bars in the United States. Incarceration so often severs family relationships, and children of prisoners may feel abandoned and ashamed. The distinct core mission of Angel Tree is to create pathways of reconciliation between incarcerated parents and their children.
Many other noble charities, sharing Angel Tree’s spirit of service and goodwill, exist to serve children at Christmas.
- The Salvation Army's Angel Tree program—unaffiliated with Prison Fellowship—also provides gifts to children at Christmas. It focuses on serving any low-income families who are unable to afford gifts.
- Toys for Tots, a charity of the U.S. Marine Corps, also serves less fortunate children and provides supplemental toys to the Salvation Army when needed.
- Samaritan's Purse facilitates the international Operation Christmas Child shoebox ministry, delivering boxes worldwide that may include toys, crafts, toiletries, evangelism brochures, and more.
Beyond a general charity, Prison Fellowship's Angel Tree uniquely strives to encourage relationships, community, and restoration. Family bonds that were once broken can be restored and strengthened, starting with a simple gift.
Children of prisoners are eligible for Angel Tree from infancy through age 18. Each Year, parents in prison take the initiative to sign up their children for Angel Tree. The applications allow parents to suggest specific types of gifts and send a written message for their children. Churches, businesses, and other groups partner with Angel Tree to purchase and deliver individual gifts, the Gospel, and a personal message from the prisoner directly to the children.
CHARITABLE OPPORTUNITIES ALL YEAR
Once all the gifts are unwrapped, the impact has only begun. The Angel Tree program enables year-round opportunities like camping, sports clinics, and mentoring, so children and families can receive ongoing support.
ANGEL TREE SPORTS CLINIC
Angel Tree Sports Clinic™ shows children of incarcerated parents how much they can overcome—on the field and in life. Through lessons and fun competition, kids develop skills in sports and perseverance for life’s challenges. Before the day ends, young athletes hear the Gospel and discover there’s a place for them on God's team.
ANGEL TREE CAMPING
Angel Tree Camping® makes camp possible for children of incarcerated parents by partnering with experienced Christian camps and churches. Thanks to scholarships provided by donors, campers have a chance to just be a kid, fellowship with peers, and meet caring counselors who listen. At camp, many children make a first-time decision to trust in Jesus or deepen their relationship with Him.
UNWRAPPING HOPE ALL YEAR
Every day, Angel Tree is helping to restore relationships and share the hope of Christ. Children and families of prisoners often need much of the same support as others living with long-term difficulties. Practical, meaningful support can go a long way for hurting families—not only for physical needs but spiritual ones, too.
Angel Tree starts with a gift and unwraps the hope and joy of connection.
The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'
Matthew 25:40, NIV
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