Every year in the fall my wife Tammy receives 150-300 names of children who have one or sometimes both parents in prison. Through no fault of these children they may never get anything from the incarcerated parent.
This ministry is part of Prison Fellowship started by Chuck Colson who served prison time for being involved with President Nixon in the scandal that also led to his impeachment.
It is Mary Kay Beard, who while serving time, remembered how mothers would try to get presents for their children, began locally with a church and her concept (Angel Tree) spread nationally then internationally from there!
As a big fundraiser for the schools our boys went to, Tammy found the Angel Tree Ministry at our Sierra Community Church when we moved up here needed more guidance and leadership so she took over in the mid 90’s. Now after her 16th Christmas it’s been a very successful program up here!
We help by getting gifts to children not only up here at Lake Tahoe but also as far as Sacramento, CA, and Reno, NV in both states. We have amazing people at church besides Tammy who buy gifts, wrap, and deliver, it’s a team effort and Tammy is super organized! The paperwork and calling each parent or guardian is up to Tammy, there’s callbacks, letters, and follow up letters back to the prisoners to let them know their gift was delivered.
It’s actually quite a process and the week before delivery, usually just after Thanksgiving, is busy! Tammy and a crew are at the church wrapping and organizing by families their bags of presents. Delivery day is the Saturday of that week and usually we’ll take a few bags to deliver also.
It’s somewhat hectic for a few weeks but worth it! The children get present/s from their parent and many times it’s worth it to the delivery person who gets to see the faces of these children! One child even asked a delivery man from our church, “Are you my daddy?” This is a major impact for the child and the prisoner plus we get them all a message about Jesus Christ, the reason for the season.
I asked Tammy when she’ll retire from Angel Tree, her reply… “When there are no more prisoners!” So that may be awhile! It’s also about these children, how can she not do this!
Our church family is so great, and even when we get too many names we think we can handle, God always provides a way! One year we had a very large number of children but Tammy took them all and had Faith it would work out, which it always has, down to the last gift!
Our church, like many others, has missions and ministries we help serve worldwide. We’ve also worked in the food line which takes local markets food that may be outdated but still good and gives it to the needy and also serves a meal.
Our highest calling and Jesus’ final example is to serve others. It’s the most fulfilling thing we’ll do. I am proud to be married to Tammy who gives and serves of herself all the time! So if you are in your local church, school, community, perhaps you’ll find a way to serve others in some way and you may be doing that already! Till next time, God Bless you on your journey!