As Christmas day approaches, some children eagerly await Santa Claus’ arrival, but the children of inmates in the Nelson Coleman Correctional Facility are hoping for angels.
The Angel Tree Prison Ministry a national organization, coordinates with churches and other community groups in St. Charles Parish to provide gifts for the children of inmates in jail.
Rev. Gary Bolden, of the St. John Baptist Church in Mount Airy, coordinates various prison outreach programs.
“This is an outstanding program for the families of both the men and women, the children of these inmates get to be recognized during the holiday despite the fact their parents are incarcerated,” Bolden says.
Bolden says he received 150 applications from inmates this year.
Callie Capitano, a member of the Christian Motorcylist Association says their group sponsored at least twenty children last year, all from St. Charles Parish. “We have someone dressed up as Santa Claus to distribute the gifts. All of the club members ride their motorcycles and go into the neighborhoods where the children live and hand out the gifts.” Capitano says.
Angel Tree guidelines require that applications be filled out starting in November. The sponsors are required to purchase a $40 gift for each child they sponsor.
“One gift we purchase must be a clothing item, the other gift can be a toy, but we have to spend at least $40,” Capitano says. The children do not know who the gifts are from.
“We tell the children that there parents purchased them these gifts and it puts a smile on their faces and makes them happy,” Capitano says.
CMA has been participating in the Angel Tree Ministry Program for six years.
“We plan to continue each year to give back to the children in the community this way,” Capitano says.