Organization Helps Kids With Incarcerated Parents Celebrate Christmas
TULSA, Oklahoma - Prison Fellowship Ministries works with incarcerated men and women and helps them send Christmas gifts to their kids along with a note to start to rekindle their relationship.
“Angel tree really helped me to be able to establish that relationship with her again,” said Debra Dunklin.
There are more than 26,000 kids in Oklahoma who have parents in prison. Most of those kids already have a sponsor for the holidays, but there are still 500 left who won’t get presents on Christmas morning if they are not picked up in the next few weeks.
“It really made me feel good to finally be able to do something for them,” said Dunklin.
Dunklin was arrested back in 2009 on a drug charge and was sent to Turley Correctional Center.
She didn't have contact with her children until Prison Fellowship's Angel Tree Program came into the picture.
“I didn't even know exactly what to get for them,” said Dunklin. “I just got something like a gift card for one and a bible for my daughter and something for my little one.”
Little did she know, those gifts would make all the difference.
“Her reaching out to us like that showed me that she is really trying,” said Dunklin's daughter Kristin Bell.
The Christmas gifts are delivered to kids and come with a special note from their mom and dad.
“They are getting a chance to hear from mom and dad, their message, and we want to tell them mom and dad love you,” said Vanessa Blaylock, Oklahoma Field Director for Prison Fellowship Ministries.
There are 2.7 million American children who have parents in prison. Seventy percent of them are predicted to follow in their parents' footsteps; however, Prison Fellowship wants to change that.
“I don't want to go to bed tonight thinking, 'We haven't done everything we can to change that 70 percent for our Oklahoma kids,'” said Blaylock.
The organization works with local churches to find sponsors, so kids can wake up on Christmas morning with a present from someone who loves them.
“It's just incredible to see the smiles on their faces,” said Wayne Hardy, Senior Pastor at Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church.
A small gift can mean so much.
“I'm glad I didn't give up on her,” said Bell. “Without her here today, I don't think I would actually be here.”