The Real Gift
Angel Tree is so much more than a gift for a child under a tree at Christmas.
As a volunteer and administrator involved in implementing the program in SA and NT this past Christmas, I came to realise that this program impacts lives on many levels. And connection is the common thread in all those levels.
Connection to a loved one at Christmas is like a thread of gold, more special than the gift itself. It affects all those whose lives are impacted by incarceration and the ostracism associated with it. Angel Tree is a conduit that says, “Someone cares.”
It is a message, spoken to James in prison, with an opportunity extended by Prison Fellowship to connect to his beloved son Alexei, who felt so remote and unreachable.
It is a message to little Steph who I met as she lingered behind her mum Jessica who answered the door to receive the gift…. looking on in anticipation of the content of the brightly wrapped gift, with the message attached: “I still think of you.”
It is a message to Karen, the aunt and primary carer for Zane. She shared with me how her circumstances had at times feel untenable, but just for a moment she felt that someone recognised the challenges she is going through. She was so encouraged in the brief words, “God bless you… He cares.”
Connection – it is the motivation behind the numerous gifts that are bought and donated, behind the seemingly endless task for volunteers of wrapping the gifts and ensuring the Christmas message from the family member is attached.
It all speaks of caring.
Brief messages, for a brief moment in time at Christmas, which celebrates the greatest Message of Caring and Connection of all time: Jesus.
*Names have been changed.
– Yvonne Smuts, SA Administrator