3,200 Prisoner’s Children Receive Christmas Gifts
3,200 Prisoner’s Children Receive Christmas Gifts from the Angel Tree
“Over Christmas, 3,200 children received gifts in the name of their imprisoned parent, through the Angel Tree program.
While Prison Fellowship coordinates the program, it is very much a combined effort”, said Kim Workman, National Director, Prison Fellowship.
“Prison chaplains, Christian volunteers, churches, ministry and social service organisations come together to purchase, wrap and deliver presents to the children of prisoners.” Angel Tree is a Prison Fellowship Program that provides Christmas toys to prisoners’ children who might otherwise be overlooked during the Christmas Season. When mothers and fathers are behind bars, their children also do hard time. We sometimes don’t appreciate that these children are the hidden victims of crime.
Our efforts go some way toward linking children with their imprisoned parents. International research shows that where imprisoned parents can maintain a link with their children, the children are more likely to respond positively to school and to their parents, and less likely to offend or truant.”
But the positive impact is felt more widely than that. Prisoners who have neither the money nor mobility to provide Christmas presents, often feel helplessly frustrated when they think of their children during this time. That in turn can result in anti-social behaviour, withdrawal, and depression. The program provides a crucial link between children and their imprisoned parents.
Local Prison Fellowship Committees add their own variations to the program. In Manakau, a picnic day was held for persons’ children. In Rotorua, a local Muslim shopkeeper provided foodbaskets for needy families. In other centres, they hold a “wrapping day” in which all the donors come together to share in the work. It is a great time for community sharing. The programme has taken on an international flavour, with Prison Fellowship delivering presents from parents in Australia, and sending presents overseas on behalf of those inmates from other countries. Our links with Prison Fellowship Ministries in 120 other countries make this possible. It is a wonderful way to express Christ’s love.