Dec. 12, 2017 – For the 15th consecutive year, the congregation at First Presbyterian Church of Fort Lauderdale provided more than 400 Christmas gifts to children whose parents are incarcerated. Generally serving families in eastern Broward County, the church enlists the help of community partners such as the Junior League and the church’s very own Happyland Day School to ensure more than 200 children have a very merry Christmas.
“The Angel Tree project is all about putting smiles on the faces of the children who are often forgotten,” said church member and Angel Tree Coordinator Jan Nolander. “Each child received two gifts on their wish list, and they enjoyed an afternoon filled with crafts, games and refreshments all provided by our congregation and our generous community partners.”
Each year, prisoners work with their prison chaplains to nominate children from birth to age 19, if still in high school. Then members of the community are invited to visit the church’s Angel Tree and choose an angel tag detailing each child’s gift request ($30 value).
“Perhaps the most thoughtful aspect of the project is the fact that the gift tag comes on behalf of the parent in prison, including a short message to their child,” said Nolander.
This year’s Angel Tree party was held at First Presbyterian Church of Fort Lauderdale the afternoon of December 10, 2017. In addition to the party, the children also enjoyed a short service to talk about the true meaning of Christmas and recognize the approximately 70 caregivers who accompanied the children. Additionally, each child created a festive card and took a picture with Santa to send to their parent in prison.
“The Jail and Prison Ministry at First Presbyterian Church of Fort Lauderdale has ongoing programs to help families who are impacted by the incarceration of a parent,” said Nolander. “But we are especially proud of the Angel Tree program, which allows us to share the gift of God’s love with these families.”