By B.J. Wells
When God calls you, you answer no matter What it is. Ali Dopps was called to work on the Angel Tree, a mission that buys Christmas gifts for children in the Wichita area with an incarcerated parent. She became involved in this ministry through volunteering to help at Heart2Heart’s Angel Tree table one year at Pathway. The following year she was coordinating the whole event!
Angel Tree provides ornaments with the prisoner’s wish for their child or children. Then the Pathway congregation chooses an ornament and purchases the gift. (Every child receives at least two packages—one clothing item and one toy.) Once the gifts are returned to the church, Ali and her Home Team gather everything together at a central location for the Angel families to pick up. The families of the incarcerated are so thankful to receive their gifts.
Since 2008, Ali’s Home Team, consisting of five couples ranging in age from their late 20’s to early 30’s has participated in organizing the Ministry. The women in the group help with letter writing to the families, create the Angel tags, and volunteer at the tables during services while the men in the group focus on sorting and transporting the gifts once they are received. This project is something they have taken on for the glory of God and to be a blessing to others in our community. It’s also a legacy that the group wants their children to help with as they grow up.
Ali explained that: “By God’s grace, almost all of the Angels are usually taken by the church family.” If any of the ornaments aren’t taken, the Home Team and special donors pick up the cost of the remaining gifts and provide them for the kids so no one is left out. “Angel Tree is a wonderful Christmas project. We say $15-20 limits, but it’s amazing to see church members buying bikes and coats, and multiple gifts above and beyond the one they chose. It’s even more touching to see a family crying at the sight of their gifts at pick up—they didn’t know how they were going to provide, and through a special Christmas gift, they have hope again.”
Ali also feels blessed to be part of a Home Team that shares the ups and downs of life and supports one another. “Our group is real about life and real about the ups, downs, and blessings of our relationship with God.”