Find Out How Your Church Can Meet the Needs of Angel Tree Families All Year Long
There's nothing quite like helping an incarcerated parent give their child a Christmas gift. The twinkling in the child's eyes when they realize the gift is from their mom or dad—whom they may not have seen in months or years—often leaves volunteers with warm hearts and big smiles.
After witnessing the impact of Angel Tree® at Christmas, many churches and individuals feel called to extend their ministry to prisoners' families all year long. You, too, can meet the continuing needs of Angel Tree families. Here are some ideas for staying involved in the lives of the children and caregivers you meet through Angel Tree.
1) WELCOME FAMILIES INTO THE CHURCH
Families of prisoners often feel isolated and stigmatized. You can show them that they are loved by simply welcoming them into your church. Invite children or their caregivers into existing church ministries, like Sunday worship, youth group, vacation Bible school, or support groups.
Families impacted by incarceration often experience financial, emotional, or spiritual stress. Connect them with ministries and others that can help meet their tangible needs. They may need school supplies, help with finding affordable childcare, or a community to lift them up when they're down.
If you want to help those struggling with the pain and loss of having a family member in prison, browse our list of family ministry resources.
2) CONNECT CHILDREN WITH A MENTOR
Studies indicate that mentoring by a caring adult is the single most effective strategy for building character and curbing destructive behavior. Prisoners' children often deal with a range of emotional and behavioral challenges that could extend into adulthood.
Angel Tree equips churches to match vulnerable children with compassionate Christian mentors who will point them toward Jesus and help them stay on course for a bright future. The mentor is meant to be a friend, a coach, a confidant, and a role model.
Learn more about Angel Tree mentoring. We can send you information to share with your church and help you find an organization or initiative in your area to assist with your mentoring ministry.
3) HELP CHILDREN FEEL LIKE CHAMPIONS
Angel Tree hosts sports clinics across the country to show kids how much they can overcome—on the field and in life. Kids with an incarcerated parent often face higher rates of emotional, social, and classroom problems than their peers. Depending on their age, they are also more susceptible to engaging in substance abuse, juvenile delinquency, and gang activity.
With Angel Tree Sports Clinic™, children of prisoners gain confidence and skills in various sports and learn about God's love. It's a unique opportunity for youth of all ages and abilities to learn from seasoned college players and former professional athletes. At each clinic, kids don't just build skills—they learn valuable lessons about hard work, perseverance, and overcoming difficult circumstances. These lessons are taught by caring coaches and mentors who share their own stories of trials and triumphs.
Discover more about Angel Tree Sports Clinic and help us show children of prisoners they matter and God loves them.
4) GIVE A PRISONER'S CHILD A SUMMER THEY'LL NEVER FORGET
Thousands of Angel Tree children have opportunities to attend Christian summer camps on scholarships with the help of Angel Tree churches and caring supporters. While the children are having a life-changing week at camp, their caregivers receive a much-needed break.
Angel Tree Camping® gives a child an opportunity to have fun and fellowship with their peers. They may build relationships with caring camp counselors, as well as experience the love of God in the great outdoors. The growth that begins at camp is reinforced and nurtured when your church provides follow-up support for the kids after they return.
If your church has a camp it partners with, consider bringing Angel Tree kids along. If not, Angel Tree has established relationships with several camps across the country that have a desire to serve Angel Tree kids. Find out how you can give the gift of camp to a prisoner's child.
WHAT IS ANGEL TREE?
Every child has a story. For 1.5 million children in the U.S., that story may be one of having a parent in prison. For many, it may also include following their parents down the same destructive road to incarceration.
Angel Tree®, a Prison Fellowship program, reaches out to children of prisoners and their families with the love of Christ. You can join Angel Tree to help to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of families in your community.