Rather than the traditional Santa visit this Christmas, hundreds of thousands of children will receive gifts from leather-clad bikers through the only nationwide, year-round effort that specifically reaches out to the estimated 2 million children in the United States whose parent or parents are incarcerated.
Prison Fellowship's annual Angel Tree program has gathered the support of 13,000 churches across the nation to bring a merry Christmas to more than half a million children whose parents are imprisoned. Harley-riding bikers from Fellowship Riders, a Dallas-based national non-profit organization, are joining the effort to deliver gifts to children of inmates through affiliates across the country, according to Prison Fellowship.
Some 100 bikers from six Dallas-Ft. Worth chapters of Fellowship Riders will rally at Irving Bible Church on Dec. 17 with hundreds of church volunteers to take the role of Santa for 500 children. Angel Tree gifts will be delivered to the homes of 13,200 prisoner's children in Dallas-Ft. Worth, 58,000 kids in Texas and 550,000 children nationwide.
As the Angel Tree program runs in the churches, Fellowship Riders will be taking the last mile to wheel the collected toys on their motorcycles and bring joy to inmates' children.
Prison Fellowship and Fellowship Riders, Inc., partnered in 2004 to reach out to a group of children that studies have labeled as the most severely at-risk youth in America. According to the U.S. News & World Report from 2002, children of prisoners are five times more likely to end up in prison themselves.
The new partnership was established to help break the "cycle of crime," as Prison Fellowship President Mark Earley said in a released statement.
Fellowship Riders operates as a ministry of the local churches. Its mission is to share the love of Christian fellowship, motorcycles and the local church through safety, excellence and service.