Transcript Staff

Mary Kay Mahaffey (Beard), bank robber and at one time one of the FBI's "Most Wanted," changed her life after her capture and began an altruistic Christian program called "Angel Tree."

The program provides gifts to children of incarcerated individuals who previously only had the opportunity to provide their children with small tubes of toothpaste, soap, bars of soap and bottles of shampoo for Christmas presents.

"Some of the forgotten victims of crime are the little children of inmates, who are left without a father or mother ? through no fault of their own," Mahaffey said. "You see, children don't care about things if they know they are first of all loved."

Angel Tree, a ministry of Prison Fellowship, strives to help break this potential cycle of children following in their parents' footsteps in many ways but the initial start is by sharing unconditional love with them at Christmas.

Each year in early fall, incarcerated dads and moms can sign up to have church volunteers deliver gifts, with consent of the guardians, to their children at Christmas.

The Christmas gifts are presented as being from the mom or dad in prison, assuring the children they haven't been forgotten.

Oklahoma Prison Fellowship's 2005 goal is to provide over 10,000 children with Christmas gifts. The kickoff to this campaign started Wednesday and runs through Sunday. Mahaffey will speak at the upcoming Angel Tree Rallies across Oklahoma hosted by a number of churches including Alva, Lawton, McAlester, Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Newcastle.

The First Church of the Nazarene, 6789 NW 39th Expressway in Oklahoma City, will host a meeting on the subject at 2 p.m. Saturday and at 9 a.m. Sunday. Woodland Hills Baptist, 313 S. Highway 76 in Newcastle will host a meeting at 10:45 a.m. Sunday. For more information or participation contact Prison Fellowship Field Director, Don Duncan at don_duncan@pfm.org 350-5076 or www.angeltree.org.

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