Angel Tree Christmas
1“We arrived at the child’s house to deliver a gift on behalf of a parent who was in prison. We said ‘This is a Christmas present from your Dad.’ ‘From my DAD?,’ she replied – a huge smile on her face. ‘THANK YOU!’ It was so encouraging to see her face light up when she realized that her father had remembered her.”
There are 357,000 hidden victims of crime across Canada – the children of incarcerated parents. These children, often forgotten in their community, experience challenges like shame, isolation, developmental delays, poor school attendance and performance, poverty, addictions, homelessness and more because they have a parent that has been or is incarcerated.
Creating a protective environment, and fostering a community of connection and care for children of incarcerated parents is the way to help counter and repair the negative impacts and trauma of being the child of a person in conflict with the law. The people and communities that surround these children can create the stability and care a child needs to heal from the stress and trauma they experience due to their parent’s incarceration.
Prison Fellowship Canada understands that the full journey of reconciliation and restoration for prisoners and ex-prisoners critically includes supporting their families and, particularly their children. Our Angel Tree Christmas and Angel Tree Camping programs play an important part in the creation of a protective and supportive environment for these children to grow and develop. Our staff, volunteers and donors work diligently to ensure that these children are not forgotten, especially at Christmas. For many children, their Angel Tree gift is their only connection with their parent, and may be the only gift they receive.
With Angel Tree Christmas prisoners apply, submit a wish list for each child and fill out gift tags that will be attached to the gifts. Prison Fellowship Canada matches the children with sponsors in their local area. Sponsors purchase, wrap and deliver the gifts, meeting the family, offering a cheery hello and extending a hand of friendship in the name of Jesus Christ. Some have also invited the families to their Christmas church programming. And this is no small thing!
Last year, donors made sure that 3,300 of these children received a Christmas gift, giving them a meaningful memory in the midst of a challenging season. This year, the need is even greater, as 5,000 children have been identified for an Angel Tree gift. Our theme for the 2021 Angel Tree Christmas fundraising drive is “Making memories changes a life/changes lives.” We have hundreds of stories of how a child’s Christmas was transformed from a painful reminder of their separation from their parent to a moment of joy and connection. A moment that they remember and can build on in the coming year. This year we have even more children who we are working to create a special memory for this coming Christmas. Will you make a meaningful memory for a child this Christmas? It might just be one that lasts a lifetime, and changes a life.