By David Tuma
Angel Tree is a special project for children who have parents who are either in the Bell County Jail or in the state or federal prisons. Each year around 1,700 children receive Christmas Presents and a message from a parent who has is in jail. It is a special event for both.
It takes hours and hours of community work to make this project happen. Jeannette Kelley is again in charge of making Angel Tree a reality in Bell County. The Prison Fellowship Angel Tree program has been active in the Bell County area for fifteen years and is coordinated through the J.A.I.L Ministry. It takes individuals, churches and organizations purchasing and delivering Christmas gifts.
Each child receives three gifts or clothing item around $25 each. They receive a message from the parent and a Christian gift. That gift is either a bible, Christian storybook, Christian CD or Christian jewelry.
The project is operated entirely by volunteers and is a faith-based Christmas project that involves hundreds of volunteers. It focuses on children from birth to 18-years of age. Children who are in the Juvenile Correction Center in Bell County are also included.
“About 20 organizations have signed up to help us. We need volunteers for the packing day mid-December. The gifts are delivered the week before Christmas. This is about children. We just tell the child this a gift from their parent. It also includes a personal message from the parent. The Angel Tree Project helps both the child and the parent. I have coordinated the efforts in Bell County for 17 years and depend on a dedicated group of volunteers who do amazing work. I have a cohort in west Bell County, Deana West at KPLE-TV. We serve prison inmate’s children who live in Bell County and the gifts are delivered to the child’s home.
We also serve children of inmates who are incarcerated in Bell County Jail and ship the gifts all over the U.S.
These children receive three gifts (a clothing item, a toy/fun gift, and a gift that depicts the true meaning of Christmas) from the incarcerated parent but purchased by caring individuals.
The inmates filled out forms through Prison Fellowship and the information was forwarded to J.A.I.L. Ministry,” said Kelley.
Christian Farm/Tree House residents and their children are included. Most of the children receive three gifts of some kind. Funding is also needed to send some gifts out of state or out of Bell County. If you would like to volunteer or make a donation contact Kelley at 254 718-4514.
Donations can be made to the J.A.I.L. Ministry Inc. P.O. Box 634, Belton, TX 76513. A phone committee has been started to make contact with each child’s caretaker to determine their wish of a toy or clothing item. The child’s name and wish is then written on an angel tag that can be displayed on a tree or bulletin board at local churches.
The Angel Tree Project is a Christian based project that can help change a life.