Host sites needed to put up Angel Trees for coming holiday | NevadaAppeal.com

Host sites needed to put up Angel Trees for coming holiday

Rhonda Costa-Landers
Appeal Staff Writer

The Angel Tree project, which provides gifts to children of the incarcerated, is in need of host sites for its trees.

Coordinated by Mike Stickler of Faith-Based Solutions, more than 1,000 children in Northern Nevada are on the list for gifts this year.

“It’s sad, but we’ve added more than 300 children to the list this year,” Stickler said. “We will need gifts for 1,080 children.”

Several churches in Carson City and Douglas County have signed up to participate and Stickler said he has several businesses who will put up a tree.

Each tree contains tags with age, gender and suggested gift for the child. The process starts with the incarcerated parent who completes an application. A follow up is then done with the family to ensure eligibility requirements.

“A sad statistic is more than half of the children in juvenile halls have one or more parent in prison. If we don’t interrupt this cycle now, we’re guaranteeing the same process in 15 years,” he said.

“It’s usually pretty bad (family conditions) when a parent gets locked up and the parent doesn’t have any way to reach out and buy a gift. They don’t know where to start.

“Then you have the child thinking, ‘my daddy or mommy doesn’t love me.’ It’s very sad.

“I’ve seen the kids who get these gifts and it’s amazing. The child writes to the parent and the parent begins writing to the child. All of a sudden, there’s motivation for the parents when they get out,” he said.

Businesses and churches can call Stickler at his Reno office, 828-5008 for information. The gifts are collected and delivered by volunteers from various churches.

He said the tags have a gift suggestion which comes from the incarcerated parent. To make it easier on the person who takes a tag, Stickler suggests a small gift and a gift card of no more than $15 for clothing.

“How do you buy for a 12-year-old?,” Stickler said. “Often the parent hasn’t seen the child for a while and doesn’t know their size.

“But it’s not about just getting gifts, it’s about rebuilding families. We’re letting the kids know their parent still cares about them.

“And the parents will make changes because they’ve got something and someone to live for and do for when they get out.”

Stickler said after the gift-giving is over, an offer is made to the children to go to camp for a week for free. Then they get the children involved in mentoring.

“It’s a pretty cool process of what the Angel Tree thing does,” he said. “There is such distress between family members because the little ones are also victims of the incarcerated.”

There are seven churches in Carson City participating; one in Dayton; two in Gardnerville; six in Reno/Sparks and one in Incline Village.

The Angel Tree project began in 1982 by former inmate Mary Kay Beard in Birmingham, Ala. Beard served part of a 22-year sentence for burglary, grand larceny and robbery. She spent six Christmases in state prison.

You can help

WHAT: Angel Tree Project hosts needed

WHERE: Northern Nevada

CALL: Mike Stickler, 828-5008

Churches participating

Calvary Chapel Carson City, Carson City

Cornerstone Christian Fellowship, Carson City

First Baptist Church, Carson City

First Christian Church, Carson City

First Presbyterian Church, Carson City

Fountainhead Foursquare Church, Carson City

Silver Hills Community Church, Carson City

New Life Dayton Foursquare, Dayton

Grace Community Church, Gardnerville

Hilltop Community Church, Gardnerville

The Village Presbyterian Church, Incline Village

Covenant Presbyterian Church, Reno

Grace Church, Reno

Hillside Foursquare Church, Reno

New Beginnings Worship Center, Reno

Sparks Christian Fellowship, Sparks

Emmanuel First Baptist Church, Sparks

Beginnings

In 1982, Angel Tree debuted in Birmingham, Ala., when Mary Kay Beard, an ex-prisoner, received permission to erect Christmas trees in shopping malls to recruit shoppers to purchase presents for prisoners’ children.

Beard, who served part of a 22-year sentence for burglary, grand larceny and robbery, said she spent six Christmases in state prison watching women gather soap, shampoo and toothpaste they received from charity groups to wrap and give to their kids as gifts. “I realized that children don’t care as much about things as they do about being loved,” Beard said.

– Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at rcosta-landers@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1223.