Since 1982, Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree program has delivered more than 10 million gifts to children with a parent in prison. Your generosity enables a child to receive a gift chosen just for them by their incarcerated parent, along with a note to remind them they’re loved and not forgotten.
2.7 million children have a parent behind bars. They’re more likely to live in poverty, go into foster care, struggle at school, have problems with depression or anger, and engage in high risk behaviors.
This gives incarcerated mothers and fathers a path to restore and strengthen relationships with their children and families. Last year, Angel Tree delivered a Christmas gift and the Gospel to nearly 300,000 children in the name of their parents.
Change the life of a child this Christmas. Your donation helps provide a gift and the Gospel message to an Angel Tree child. With a gift of $30 or more, you’ll receive the free album, “Songs for the Children“, featuring MercyMe, TobyMac, Jeremy Camp, Phil Wickham, Hawk Nelson, Mandisa, Britt Nicole, Colton Dixon, and other Christian artists…
Click HERE to give or call 855-256-1465!
Dulce Benitez, a former Angel Tree child, is now 22 and has only spent 3 years of her life living with her father. “I grew up visiting a lot of prisons. He has missed the most important days of my life.”
Growing up without dad
He went to prison when she was 10 days old. Her first memory of him is when he was released when she was 4 years old. “I didn’t like him, because I did not know him … to me, my dad was my uncle.” When she was six, he went back to prison. “When the police took him away, he grabbed my hand and said, ‘I’m going to leave for a long time and you have to take care of your mom and your sister. I had to mature too fast.”
Most of her life, it was just her, her mother, and her sister. They didn’t have many family members around. They had to drive really far to the prisons to visit Dad. She remembers at school special events for Father’s Day, she didn’t have someone to bring like the other kids. “I would just rather not participate. It was common to see single parent moms, but it wasn’t common to know other people’s dads were in prison … it’s what hurt the most—to know that he could be out here, but he’s not.”
Conflicted feelings: “I loved him.” My mom always talked good about him. Showed us how to write to him and provided the address. I always had a lot of love for him, and questions … that no one would answer for me.”
He came out of prison again when she was 11. It was rough.
“One day I came home from school and my dad was sitting there.” Initially happy to see him, but after a month, when he started telling what she should and shouldn’t do, she pushed back.
“Who are you to tell me what to do? You haven’t been here!”
A year later, he was back in prison again. “By then, I was just angry because I couldn’t believe it was happening again. I saw how mom was devastated. How is she going to pay this rent?”
Still, they would go visit him. It was just normal for them. “We already knew the drill. By then I had even more questions. If you had a good job, why did you continue doing what you were doing? Why don’t you want to be out here with us?”
Intersection with Angel Tree
“We were invited to a church party and I received a little doll I had been wanting. It was a gift my dad picked out. Those were his presents for me. I had grown up not liking holidays, because we didn’t have family to celebrate with, like everybody else. When Angel Tree would call, I really liked it because it was a gift from dad. That was about the only presents we were receiving.”
“Every year I would receive a gift from Angel Tree and its what brought hope to me from ages 6 to 18. One year, people singing carols in front of our house, brought a HUGE basket of food. That’s when mom started visiting a Christian church, someone invited her; she just needed to hear those words, “God is here for you.” All those circumstances made my mom go out and look for Him.
Dulce recently graduated from college with a degree in criminal justice and is engaged to be married. Her father has been released or will be soon.