Topic: Crime

Angel Tree programme lifts Xmas spirits of children with parents in prison

By Mānia Clarke

5000 volunteers around the country are busy wrapping Christmas gifts for children whose parents are in prisons. It is part of the annual Angel Tree programme, which has been operating in New Zealand for 25 years.

The programme was established by a mother who was imprisoned in America and now it operates in 90 countries, including New Zealand.

Peter Rakanui of Angel Tree says, “It's really about the love of Christ, that's why we do it. It's about sharing the love with people and serving the community.”

It's operated through partner groups and volunteers around the country. Alastair Hall says, “Prisons are in our backyard and for us we want to be involved in our local community, and prisons are in our local community.”

Angel Tree has broadened its work to journey with the children and their families throughout the year.

Anne Tahitahi cares for her 13 grandchildren whose parents are incarcerated she says, “Angel tree has been part of our life and terms of Peter Rakanui, he's like a family member actually, I’m sure the kids will tell you the same thing. All of the kids have been to the camps which they enjoy immensely, otherwise over the holiday period they'd be stuck at home.”

Over the next few weeks the children will receive their gifts, something that will surely put a smile on their faces during the festive season.