Oceana-Mason Counties Jail Ministry says it had a successful Christmas 2019 with its Angel Tree program at the Mason County Jail.
The program is patterned after a similar prison through the state’s Department of Corrections, according to a release from Chaplain Jerry Thorne.
For the version at the Mason County Jail, those who are serving time on Christmas were able to select gifts for their children or step-children.
The gifts are valued at $20 and community volunteers purchase the gifts with donations from individuals and local churches.
While this event was a first for Mason County Jail, a similar program has been successfully held at the Oceana County Jail for more than 20 years, under the leadership of ArkLight Ministries’ Thorne and the Oceana County Jail Ministry board, according to a release.
For the two counties, 93 children received gifts and food boxes were provided to 42 families last Christmas.
Thirty of the families live in Oceana County and 12 in Mason County, according to the releases.
The Angel Tree program also provided a Christmas party in each county on Dec. 21, 2019.
More than 100 children and family members attended the two parties.
Two children accepted Christ that day.
Many of the children professed to previous acceptance.
Twelve asked for Bibles and 10 requested applications for 2020 summer camp.
The program, though, needs some assistance in Oceana County.
The approximate cost for the program there was $2,000, and $1,000 of donations were received.
The Mason County Angel Tree program had a surplus of $400 that will be carried over to this year, according to the release.
The Mason County Jail program needs more volunteers, however.
Volunteers were needed to not only shop for the presents but to assist at the party.
Thorne presented the concept to a few churches in Mason County.
Radiant Church livestreams its worship services on Sunday mornings at the jail and thus was very helpful in offering the Angel Tree program to the inmates.
Volunteers from their church also purchased the gifts and came to the party to share their views to the children and families.
Ludington United Methodist Church oversees the women’s ministry at the jail and agreed to oversee the purchase of gifts for the children of female inmates.
Both churches were excited to participate and both made significant financial donations to the program as well.
ArkLight Ministries also thanked Cornerstone Baptist Church for hosting the Angel Tree Party in Ludington, and Hart Wesleyan Church for hosting it for Oceana County.
Cornerstone also provided food baskets for the 12 families who came, and some members from that church also purchased gifts.
Other churches providing food baskets in Oceana County were First Baptist of Pentwater and West Golden Wesleyan Church of Mears.
ArkLight Ministries is working on a summer program to assist families of inmates at either the Oceana or Mason jails, with a summer camp scholarship program.
The goal is allow children of inmates to attend a Christian camp in the summer.
Unless the family has a camp preference of their own church, the children attend Grace Adventures Camp in Silver Lake.
Inmates will need to complete an application form after determining if their child and custodial parent/caregiver are willing to participate.
In an effort to clarify its current two-county mission, the Oceana-Mason Counties Jail Ministry board has changed its name to Oceana/Mason County Inmate and Family Ministries.
The new name is being submitted to the State of Michigan and IRS for approval.
The ministry group has established the Roy Price/Larry Mumper Memorial Family Outreach Fund for donations to the camp scholarship and the Angel Tree programs.
Tax deductible gifts can be sent to OMCIFM, P.O. Box 807, Hart, MI 49420.
Churches or individuals who are interested in participating in these programs in 2020 can contact Thorne at 231-425-3693 or firstname.lastname@example.org.