FamilyNet

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6. Little Angels

"Little Angels" is an important aspect of our FamilyNet effort to wisely and gently minister to small children (from birth to about age twelve) who have been negatively impacted by incarceration. This benefits every member of the family. We call these children "Little Angels" because we believe-as Jesus taught-that heaven itself consists of such innocent little ones. Also, they have not done anything to "ask for" their current circumstances.

While we can and do many other things to help, FamilyNet collects funds to purchase gift cards from WalMart. They are then used to benefit our "Little Angels". This is not just a Christmas program. It is active throughout the year (although activity obviously does increase from about Thanksgiving through the end of the year). Most of these children do not need another toy. Some need food, others need medicine, and still others need clothing.

Some children do need toys. One mother told recently of how her daughter received a small doll while her dad was incarcerated. It came at a critical time in that child's life. Today, that child is an adult and a mother of three little angels of her own but she fondly recalls the doll she received when her father was in prison. Thus, we collect toys, dolls, and games but they must be carefully selected so as not to present a danger to the child or fellow playmates.

In addition to the families of offenders, FamilyNet seeks to minister to ex-offenders-those on probation or parole in the community. When possible, we try to work through the officers that are supervising these clients. The officers are acutely aware of families in distress and the genuineness of their clients.

Finally, we try to encourage the families of employees within the criminal justice system. Many of them have been impacted negatively. None are overpaid for putting their lives "on the line" daily. Illness, injuries and even deaths occur. Again, children most often suffer quietly and alone. We try to assist them individually as well as collectively through annual get-togethers, picnics, play-days, etc. We may provide gift cards, food (including ice cream and cookies), clothing, furniture, appliances, or other special needs.

The extent of what FamilyNet through the Little Angels program can do is limited only by the resources available (such as the gift cards). The majority of contributions come from interested individuals. Some gifts come through congregations or groups within the church such as ladies' classes, youth groups, senior adults, etc. Occasionally, businesses will make donations-in goods or financially.

We do not use the old "bait and switch" trick. We do not offer help in exchange for people coming to "our" church, enrolling in a certain Bible course, etc. However, we do want to make a loud statement to these families and children-"You are deeply loved by God who wants only good things for you!"

Obviously, we know that some number will eventually want to get to know
us better. In time, deeper and lasting personal relationships will develop. Galatians 6:10 issues our "marching orders" . . . do good to all men!

 

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