Angel Tree Ministry still strong after 16 years
by Maddy Houk | Patterson Irrigator
Dec 23, 2013 | 1158 views | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
---Courtesy Photos
---Courtesy Photos
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Angel Tree Prison Ministry started 16 years ago in Patterson when local residents chose from less than 50 names of youngsters whose parents were incarcerated, so they could have Christmas gifts.

This year, more than 250 children were helped with gift distribution for registered applicants on Sunday, Dec 15.

“Everything went fantastic,” said Julie Bristow, who coordinates the event each year. “Everyone helped and more than 250 children received gifts.”

Children, ages infant to age 17, received gifts from local people who bought the gifts in the name of the incarcerated parent at the Hammon Senior Center.

The children were helped through the donations of area individuals, churches and businesses.

The students in James Toste’s Patterson High School Advancement Via Individual Determination class, also known as AVID, were on hand to help from start to finish.

“Patterson High AVID students worked hard to help in the event as part of their community service requirement,” Toste said. “I am happy to see that they are starting to understand the link between being a potential future leader and giving back to your community. The best gifts you can give don't have to cost any money, and being a part of Angel Tree has shown this group of kids exactly that.”

Many donors in the community stepped forward to donate gifts for Angel Tree by picking two of the angel-shaped tags from a tree — either at local churches or businesses. Then donors shopped for the child whose age, gender and clothing size is included on the tag. The gifts are then wrapped with the tags attached to the outside of the gift. The donors do not identify themselves because the gift is supposed to be from the child’s own parent. Each business or church has a representative to help coordinators make sure the gifts get to the children.

Some of the area churches and businesses who helped include Adventure Christian Fellowship; Patterson Christian Fellowship; Federated Methodist-Presbyterian Church; Patterson Covenant Church; Harvest Community Church in Crows Landing; Family Christian Center; St. Vincent De Paul Society; members of Saviour’s Lutheran Church; Patterson Rotary Club; Pacific Drywall; Oak Valley Community Bank and Ken Chesley.

Inmates who participate in Angel Tree Prison Ministry Fellowship must follow guidelines. They have to meet with a chaplain, sign up their children, complete a Bible study, and write a message to his or her child. Also, there must be no court order barring the prisoner from contacting the children.

Angel Tree, which was founded in 1982, has helped provide gifts to more than 6 million children in the United States through the support of churches, businesses and individuals.

INFO: Julie Bristow, 892-3877.

Contact Maddy Houk at 892-6187, ext. 22, or maddy@pattersonirrigator.com.

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