Army shares ‘Angel Tree’ name

Prison Fellowship Ministries


Can “angels” ever become a source of conflict?–not if the parties find the means to manage differences effectively and each assist the other in accomplishing mutual goals. The use of the Christmas fund raising program “Angel Tree” has required both the Army and Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship Ministries to engage in just that kind of an exercise.

Christmas angels first announced to poor shepherds on the hills of Bethlehem the arrival of God’s great gift to mankind–a savior–Christ the Lord.

Christmas angels still perform an essential function as harbingers of gifts for those in need during the Christmas season. These “angels,” however, are simple cutouts attached to trees in shopping malls and market places throughout America by The Salvation Army. The tree be-comes an “Angel Tree.” The selection of an “angel” from the tree by a generous giver results in the Army’s transmission of a desired gift to a particular child.

The national commander, Commissioner John Busby said: “The Angel Tree program of The Salvation Army continues to grow and provide the resources for tremendous service by Salvation Army units throughout the nation. I was able to see first hand the excellent ministry in providing wonderful Christmas memories for children through the many thousands of toys provided by generous donors to Army units when I served as territorial commander in the U.S.A. Southern Territory

The program was initiated during the Christmas season of 1979 by the creative efforts of Major Charles White in Lynchburg, VA. As a result, the link between giver and receiver grew much tighter. Since that time, the program has quickly spread throughout the United States and has become an important part of the Army’s Christmas fund raising efforts–especially in that Christmas kettles are often prohibited in shopping malls.

Charles Colson’s Prison Fellowship Ministries sought to provide gifts for the children of prisoners and initiated the Angel Tree program in 1982. Their program involved put-ting the trees in churches and worked well for them. In 1985 they registered the title with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office–something the Army had not done.

“They’re a great group, ” said Lt. Colonel Tom Jones, national community relations and development secretary. “I see no conflict in the joint use of this term. They use churches and we use the malls. We’ve co-existed peacefully with them since a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 1986 as a ‘permanent accord.’ Both parties agreed ‘that their respective charitable interests and the interests of the children benefited by their respective Angel Tree programs will be served by the continuation, for the term of this Agreement, of the joint use of the term “Angel Tree” in connection with their respective Angel Tree programs’,” Jones stated, reading from the Agreement.

Jones noted that sometimes, in recent years, they seem to have felt that “we get in each other’s way once in awhile,” but it does not seem to be a problem for Army people.

A number of Army units have selected titles for parallel programs such as “Christmas Angels” or “Giving Trees” (etc.) The name “Angel Tree,” however, when established over a number of years, does provide increased awareness and extended giving on the part of the general public. In those areas, the Army plans to maintain use of the term.

Sharing is caring!