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Angel Tree Programs Deliver Cheer

Nov 29, 2018 11:00AM ● By Emily Miranda

Brighten the Holidays

December 2018
Story by Emily Miranda

YOU MAY HAVE SEEN one while you were walking through the mall during the holiday season – a Christmas tree not dressed in glitzy ornaments and lights, but from whose branches paper angels hang. Amidst the bustling shoppers and decked out displays for the season’s must-have toys, Angel Trees bring hope. Each paper angel hanging from the tree represents a child from a family in need.

Former prisoner Mary K. Beard founded the Angel Tree Program in 1982. She had joined the organization Prison Fellowship, wanting to lead a program that would help prisoners and their families during the holiday season. Thus she began the Angel Tree Program, giving parents behind bars a way to restore and strengthen relationships with their children by making gift-giving possible at Christmas. 

Each year, thousands of incarcerated parents sign their children up for the Angel Tree Program. For every $20 given, a prisoner’s child receives a Christmas gift chosen for them by their incarcerated parent, along with a note to remind them that they are loved and not forgotten. Since its inception in 1982, the Angel Tree Program has delivered more than 10 million gifts to girls and boys with a mom
or dad in prison.

Today, Prison Fellowship is not the only nonprofit that sets up Angel Trees. The Salvation Army Angel Tree Program offers joy and dignity to families in need, allowing anonymous donors to provide gifts to thousands of children each Christmas. If it weren’t for the Angel Tree Programs, millions of children in America would go without Christmas gifts due to their parents being unable to afford them.

How do the Angel Trees work? It’s simple – just select an angel from the tree, and read the item your little “angel” desires for Christmas. You then purchase the desired item and return it to the proper Angel Tree location. From there, your gift will be delivered by Christmas to the child’s family, bringing hope and joy to a child who might otherwise go without a package to open.

For more information on where to find the nearest Angel Tree location, contact your local Salvation Army or visit

To donate to the nearest Angel Tree: A Program of Prison Fellowship, visit •