Wendy is a volunteer Angel Tree Coordinator, overseeing the programme for her local prisons. We talked to her about how she got involved and why she thinks Angel Tree is such an important thing to be involved in each Christmas.
How did you first connect with PF and Angel Tree?
I joined my current church at the time when they were encouraging people to get into missional communities, meaning that instead of the traditional small groups, we would become outreach focused fellowship groups. I was wondering where I belonged, and around the same time, the London regional coordinator for PF gave a talk at my church about the work of PF.
I knew then that I wanted to be involved in prison ministry. My church back in Boston MA, where I lived previously, used to run Angel Tree, and I have donated a present or two with them. It was not long before I was asked if I would consider becoming ATC for my local prison.
Why do you think Angel Tree is an important programme to run?
Doing something that has a positive impact on the family of a prisoner is doubly rewarding – you are blessing the prisoner and their family.
As a parent myself, my heart breaks for the inmates who are separated from their children, especially at such a special time as Christmas; and my heart breaks more for the children who are victims of their parents’ crimes.
Sending a present is one of the few viable ways of expressing a parent’s love from a distance. And we all know the proven statistics that show that maintaining family ties effectively reduces the chance of re-offending, so I think Angel Tree is a really worthwhile programme.
One moment I’ll always remember…
A previous beneficiary of Angel Tree became a volunteer in our group. Not only did he help with wrapping, he also got all his mates to purchase presents to donate!
One thing I wish I’d known when I started volunteering…
That your heart will break over and over again when you see some of the love messages the parents write to their children on the application forms.
Something that I find challenging is…
Never knowing until the last minute whether the number of pledges and the number of requests from the prisons will even come close to matching, and if not, how to raise more funds. But this is all a lesson for me to walk in faith and trust in God’s provision.
What would you say to someone who was thinking about getting involved with Angel Tree?
Do get involved! It’s hard work but it’s rewarding and fun teamwork. As many of us tend to do a lot for ourselves and our loved ones for Christmas, it’s actually both refreshing and rewarding to turn away from the material focus for ourselves and do something for those less privileged. You may be just the person to make a difference in the kind of Christmas a prisoner’s child’s will have.