Hickory – For many years United Way agency Exodus Homes has received applications for Christmas gifts for children of incarcerated parents in prison through Prison Fellowship, a national organization that provides special programs to incarcerated people. Parents in prison fill out the applications and Prison Fellowship sends those applications to programs like Exodus Homes for children who live in their area. This year Exodus Homes received close to 300 applications for children who live in Catawba, Caldwell, Lincoln, and Burke counties.
Volunteers from Exodus Homes and Exodus Missionary Outreach Church have been busy working with local churches, businesses, and individuals who have taken applications, and this week hundreds of gifts have flooded the Exodus Homes offices for distribution to the caregivers of the children. Some have donated money to the Exodus Angel Tree program so that volunteers can shop for gifts for the children. Each application has the child’s name, gender, age, and a gift preference if the incarcerated parent knows what their child would like. Many have special notes for their child such as “I’ll be home soon and I miss you so much” or “Daddy loves you and I hope you have a Merry Christmas”. Gifts should not be more than $25 each and people can sponsor multiple children.
The effort to sort, wrap, and shop for gifts is coordinated by Marty Propst, a member of Exodus Missionary Outreach United Church of Christ, along with residents of Exodus Homes and other members of the church. Caregivers can come pick up the gifts and or they will be delivered by volunteers in the Exodus ministry. “The Angel Tree program really brings the joy and spirit of Christmas. I am blessed to be a part of it.” said Propst.
The Rev Reggie Longcrier, Exodus Homes executive director, is excited about this year’s Angel Tree program saying “Seeing the joy on children’s faces when they get a gift from their parent in prison is Christmas for me.”
Photo: Exodus Homes executive director, the Rev. Reggie Longcrier, is seen with the Exodus Angel Tree coordinator Marty Propst going over applications from incarcerated parents requesting gifts for their children.