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Angel Tree opportunity starts soon
The annual effort ministers to hurting families with an incarcerated parent.
Sophia Vale
November 17, 2021

Every child has a story. For hundreds of children in the Rockford area, that story may be filled with the abandonment, loneliness and shame that comes from having a mom or dad in prison. First Free Rockford is hoping to share the love of Christ with 70 children who will be missing a parent this holiday season.

“My incarceration is horrible for the kids. Yet, your contribution puts a smile on their faces. Thank you so much for your consideration and action. Your help means so much to me.” 

These words are from a letter written by Walter, an inmate at the Pickneyville Correctional Center, after his children received gifts through Angel Tree last year. Angel Tree, sponsored by Prison Fellowship Ministries, sends Christmas gifts to children on behalf of their incarcerated parents. Not only does Angel Tree help children experience Christ’s love tangibly, but they also receive a Bible and the chance to hear the gospel.

Video courtesy of Prison Fellowship Ministries.

First Free Rockford has partnered with Angel Tree for years. This year, we are one of nine Winnebago County churches participating in the program. First Free Rockford alone hopes to help 70 kids from 30 families receive Christmas gifts this year.

Beginning Sunday, Nov. 28, you can select a child’s tag from the Christmas tree in the church lobby. This tag will have the child’s name, age and a few other details to help you find the perfect gift. Then, simply purchase a gift and bring it back to the church by Dec. 14. Gifts will be sorted the following day and delivered Saturday, Dec. 18.

Susan Schumacher and the rest of her “Delighting in God” life group have been overseeing First Free’s participation in Angel Tree for five years. 

“​It’s so hard for children of prisoners to have their parent gone, especially at Christmas,” Susan says. “The gifts are presented as being from their parent, so the children know they are thinking of them. It’s a great opportunity to share Christ’s love with the families. It is our prayer that many seeds will be planted through this program.”

Be sure to stop by the church lobby and grab an Angel Tree tag starting Sunday, Nov. 28. They usually go fast! Interested in doing more? Volunteers are needed to help sort, wrap and deliver gifts. Contact the church office to sign up.

Sophia Vale
Sophia Vale is a wife, mother and communications coordinator at First Free Rockford. She lives in Rockford with her husband, baby daughter and cat named Banjo.


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