Bringing Christmas to Children of Incarcerated Parents
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Christmas is still six weeks outside, but volunteers at The Salvation Army in Sioux Falls wasted no time now getting a head start on their gift wrapping.
The almost 500 Christmas gifts which were wrapped Monday will eventually end up under the Christmas tree of a kid whose parent will never be able to make it home for Christmas.
Wrapping paper, toys and bows are in no brief supply at The Salvation Army this season.
Help is abundant, also.
“We have got a lot of elves which are here helping us wrap gifts in order that we could send them off into children,” explained Major Tom Riggs.
Don’t know they are coming.
“These gifts are all going out to children whose mom or daddy happens to be incarcerated,” explained Riggs. “Our elves went into the prison to see them to speak to the parent to find an idea exactly what they want.”
The “Prison Toy Lift” program was in operation for more than 20 years.
The Salvation Army says it is their way of helping link families during the holiday season.
“Imagine what these children think, when a talent comes from their daddy, who is incarcerated, with their name on the tag. I think it’s just extremely important and purposeful,” explained Jean Beddow, Organizer of Toy Lift.
“I think there is a twofold experience about this,” explained Riggs. “The parent gets their fear eliminated. ‘My son, my daughter is getting a gift. The kid says dad likes me, mom still loves me.”
More than 450 children of parents are getting gifts.
Lots of the toys are given from The Salvation Army’s Angel Trees situated across the city.
That the volunteer elves make them wrapped, packed, and ready to deliver under a Christmas tree once they arrive at The Salvation Army.
“It requires hundreds and dozens of volunteers at The Salvation Army to tackle the Christmas programs that we do. And without the community coming and donating these gifts, we could not do this. We could not do this alone, that is a community effort stating we care about such families also,” explained Beddow.
The gift tags on each and every gift are filled by the parent.
The Salvation Army stays anonymous through the gift giving process.