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Mississippi College Family Assists Angel Tree Ministry

Shari Barnes

Nationwide, there are 2.7 million children with parents incarcerated as 2017 draws to a close. Angel Tree is the name of the ministry seeking to brighten the Christmas holidays for these boys and girls.

Once again, Mississippi College faculty, staff and students are helping lift the spirits of children with one or more parents in prison.

The Angel Tree ministry on the Clinton campus is seeking donations to purchase toys, clothing, dolls and other gifts. The unique program also reaches out to USA families with the love of Christ.

Last year’s goal at Mississippi College was to sponsor 120 boys and girls around the Magnolia State. This year’s goal is unchanged, organizers say.

A Christmas tree adorned with angels will spread the word to the university family through December 13. It will be on display in the school cafeteria during lunch hours.

For the price of $50, MC faculty, staff, students and alumni can sign up and bring Christmas cheer to needy kids. The boys and girls, ages 1 through 18, live in communities like Clinton, Jackson, Brandon, Pearl, Raymond, Hazlehurst and Byram. The children come from towns across Central Mississippi.

Shari Barnes, director of MC’s Community Service Center, is again overseeing the project linked to the Prison Fellowship ministry. She also helps get the gifts distributed to family members.

The campaign kicks off November 21 on the main campus in Clinton and at the MC School of Law in Jackson. Community service remains a huge part of the mission of the 5,200-student Baptist-affiliated university.

A year ago, MC senior Grace Forney actively supported the Angel Tree campaign. The Forney, Texas resident first got involved as a freshman. “This is helping people in need,” the 21-year-old said. “It gives people an opportunity to help others. I love it.”

Advocates say the drive helps meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of families of prisoners. An estimated 600,000 men and women in jail are expected to return to their communities to live.

America’s Angel Tree program began in 1982. It was founded by an ex-prisoner who witnessed the strained relationship between prisoners and their children. Angel Tree has grown to become the largest national outreach specifically for the children of prisoners.

For more information, contact Shari Barnes at 601-925-3267 or