Angel Tree program helps kids have presents for Christmas

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- Betty Schanz is pretty busy this time of year. She's organized Christmas presents for about 375 kids over the last five years.

"They usually get one article of clothing and then they get a fun toy," Chanz said.

Schanz collects the names of the Angel Tree children, kids who have at least one parent who is incarcerated. After she gets about 75 names, she distributes the tags to volunteers. Some go the Colorado Public Defender's office here in Mesa County.

"(It's) just an extension of what we already do," Pamela Sharp, Chief Investigator, said. "We help people who have issues in their life and have come in contact with the legal system, and this is a way to help their families as well."

Employees and volunteers buy and wrap up the gifts, and turn them into Schanz, who organizes her volunteers to deliver the presents.

"The present kind of makes a catalyst for a relationship that was maybe on the rocks or a distant relationship that was now brought closer," Dave Demott, Pastor First Baptist Church, said. "When I was a kid, I got exactly what I asked for…it wasn't the present, I mean it was great to get it, it wasn't the present though, it was that I was thought of in that way."

It's more than just a simple gift that's handed over.

"One of the first years my husband and I delivered gifts, we call the parent and let them know we're coming, this little girl I believe she was four year's old, running out with a plate of cookies for us because she was so excited to see us," Schanz said. "So you just to see the joy in the children, and it means so much to them, this parent that they don't get to have contact with, to get a gift from them."

For more information on the Angel Tree or Prison Fellowship program, follow the link on the side of the article.

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