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The magic of Christmas

Prairie Lakes Church brings holiday cheer to kids

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Elsie Kaufman helps her mom, Amy Kaufman, with wrapping books for Christmas presents that will go to children of incarcerated individuals.

Prairie Lakes Church is working to bring the magic of Christmas and the love of Jesus to dozens of local children who might need an extra boost to get through the holiday season.

For the third year, PLC is participating in the ministry of Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree to provide Christmas presents and holiday cheer to children of incarcerated individuals, said Prairie Lakes Church pastor, the Rev. Kyle Dana.

Through Prison Fellowship, incarcerated parents can apply to the Angel Tree program to have a gift purchased on their behalf and delivered to their child. Across the United States, more than 300,000 children of incarcerated individuals receive support from the Angel Tree, according to the Prison Fellowship website.

PLC has worked with Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree program to support the children in Webster County who have one or both parents currently incarcerated, Dana said.

This year, the church is buying and wrapping gifts for 54 children, the pastor said. Each gift will have a special tag on it with a message from the parent written by a volunteer. On Tuesday evening, the church hosted a “gift wrapping party” with volunteers to wrap the gifts.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Jo Berkland, of Callender, wraps a present for the Ministry of Prison Fellowship Angel Tree at Prairie Lakes Church on Tuesday evening.

“Our church gets involved in a lot of different ways,” Dana said. “People can buy gifts, people can wrap gifts. We’re going to have volunteers preparing snacks and goody bags to send home to the family.”

In addition to providing the gifts, PLC will host a bowling party for the children and their 27 caregivers.

“Prairie Lakes partners with the Family Bowling Center,” Dana said. “It’s no charge for these families to come out and to hang out and enjoy themselves and not have to be pressured into any situation to feel like they’re different than any other kid. We just want them to feel normal and feel loved and accepted, and along the way also be able to share the good news of Jesus.”

PLC uses this time to connect with these families and get to know their stories and make sure they know they’re loved and supported, Dana said.

“The more that we get a chance to know people and we get to know the aspects of their story, the better position we can be to love them and love them appropriately,” he said.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Allie Kaufman wraps a Christmas present that will go to a child of an incarcerated individual this year. Prairie Lakes Church participates in the Ministry of Prison Fellowship Angel Tree every year.

Prairie Lakes Church is a “no-matter” church, Dana explained. Its philosophy is “no matter who you are, where you’ve been, what you’ve done or what’s been done to you, God loves you and you can look for him here.” He sees this ministry as a way to extend that mission outside the church walls.

“We want these caregivers, these kids and the incarcerated parent to know that they matter, to know that they’re loved, to know that they’re cared for and that there’s a community here,” he said.

Dana said he expects that the church’s support of Angel Tree and its partnership with the Family Bowling Center will continue on for years to come.

“We’re blessed to be a part of it and we’re going to continue to partner with Prison Fellowship and we’re going to play our part as best as we can,” he said.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Each gift will have a tag on it with a special message from the child’s incarcerated parent.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Kelsey Wiedemeier helps wrap gifts at Prairie Lakes Church on Tuesday evening for the Ministry of Prison Fellowship Angel Tree.

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