My childhood Christmases were magical. Each year, I looked forward to buying and decorating our tree, eating festive food and singing in the choir at candlelit church services. But the best moments were when people came to visit! Grandparents, living what seemed like hundreds of miles away to six-year-old me, would come to stay. Our tree stood in the front room only used on special occasions. And, on Christmas afternoon, that’s where we gathered as a family to open presents.
Years later, I realise how fortunate I am to have experienced Christmases like this. A recent study estimates that each year 312,000 children lose a parent to custody in England and Wales. Christmas is often the most difficult time to be separated from your family. But sadly, this is the reality for thousands of parents in prison and their children at home.
And yet, in this darkness, Angel Tree provides a beacon of light. I want to tell you about the incredible impact one single present sent through our gift-giving programme can make to parental separation:
Karim got in touch from prison to thank us for supporting his family last Christmas.
‘Being able to have this gift sent to my son has been a really special experience. I am so grateful to Prison Fellowship for such an amazing opportunity. Angel Tree allowed me to play a part in my child’s Christmas at such a difficult time. The gift was clearly purchased with heartfelt thought and I cannot thank you enough.’
Once again this Christmas, Karim’s experience will be multiplied thousands of times by Angel Tree. Each personalised gift costs just £20, including postage and packing. Last year, more than 4,700 children were blessed with a gift from their parent in prison. Can you help us bless even more families this year? From Tuesday 28th November, you have a chance to do just that. Thanks to a group of generous philanthropists who will match every gift we receive until our ‘pledge pot’ is empty, your donation of £20 will buy not just one gift, but two.
At this special time of year, you can give a child an incredible gift— a Christmas present from their parent in prison.
Donate online at prisonfellowship.org.uk/x2 from midday on Tuesday 28th November.
Back at home, Karim’s family were also very grateful for Angel Tree. His partner Joanna explains, ‘Our son was excited to receive a gift from his father. The present we received for him was amazing. Angel Tree also made his father very happy as it gave him an opportunity to send our son a gift and note from himself. Thank you.’
And so, as I continue to reflect on my childhood Christmases and as I read more thank yous from the families who were so grateful for Angel Tree last year, it is clear to me that having my family together this Christmas is still the most important part of the festive celebrations.
As we celebrate Jesus, the Light of the World, coming to live among us, please could you prayerfully consider bringing a little light into the Christmas of a hurting child? A child who will not be with their mum or dad this Christmas morning. Could you add one more gift to your Christmas shopping list? It will be the most important gift that this child will receive—a present from their parent in prison.
Every donation you make before the end of December will be doubled for free. Your generosity will enable the light in another family’s Christmas shine a little brighter.