Christmas is supposed to be a joyous time to share with friends and family gathered together around food, fireplaces, and festivities. But there's an especially sad reality that sinks in around Christmas time for those children who have a parent incarcerated. They won't get to wake up on Christmas morning and have their parent to hug or take pictures of them while opening presents. Due to the fact that the parent is behind bars and the monetary costs of caring for their child rests on a court appointed guardian, those kids might not get a Christmas at all because of the financial restraints.
Angel Tree Prison Fellowship is the only nationwide, year-round effort that specifically reaches out to the nearly 2.7 million children who have parents paying their debt to society in the prison system. You can usually find Angel Tree giving stations in malls, churches, or other public events during the holidays with tags of children's names and wish-list items they'd like to receive from Santa Claus.
Every year our home church, Redemption Church in Gilbert, Arizona adopts hundreds of Angel Tree kids. Not only do we help supply these children with Christmas gifts to put under their trees but we also sponsor an annual event in which they can come and enjoy food, games, activities, and a special day to celebrate the holidays.
Josh and I are proud to volunteer at this charity event each and every year. This year we were lucky enough to also have our two girls with us. They each sat down at the face painting tables and helped paint dozens of kids smiling faces, hands, and arms with whatever their creative minds could think up. Josh spent his time greeting the families as they arrived and I helped coordinate at the arts and crafts table. There was also a youth choir performance singing Christmas songs, bounce houses, and plenty of outdoor games and activities.
Each family and child has a story to tell and we certainly couldn't personally get to know each one of them in an afternoon. However, knowing that this day would most likely be the highlight of their holiday season was enough to put aside any troubles that could be stirring within ourselves and graciously give back to these underprivileged and at-risk youths.