• Memphis woman collecting toys for kids with incarcerated parents

    By: Siobhan Riley


    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - A woman who faced jail time for murder is giving back to kids whose parents are incarcerated.

    She started the Angel Tree Ministry at Pursuit of God Church in Frayser. That program is helping to make sure no child goes without this Christmas.

    “It’s very hard to have a parent that’s absent and incarcerated,” said Toshuna Buford.

    The Angel Tree Ministry plays an important role in Buford’s 15-year-old son’s life. 

    His father is in prison.

    “This is a wonderful way that he can still seem like he’s still there, so like in spirit because he gets to write his own personal message,” she said.

    This is the third year Shiela Jefferson is organizing the event.

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    “It became very dear to my heart being that I was an incarcerated parent so that being said around the holiday time I was that parent that was absent from my children,” Jefferson said.

    Jefferson, who almost faced life in prison for murder, was given a second chance and only required to serve three years.  

    She, along with pastor Ricky Floyd of Pursuit of God Church in Frayser, explained how the program works.

    “The incarcerated parent sign the child up and they get to present, the type of gift that they would like to present to their child and they write a personal message,” Jefferson said.

    Those gifts will be presented at the church to the children and teens on Dec. 22 during a big Christmas celebration.  

    So far, more than 200 children received gifts in the past. The church is accepting gifts up until Dec. 19.

    If you would like to donate toys, you can drop them off between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on week days or you can drop them off during church services on Sundays.

    The gifts will be distributed to kids from infants to 18-years-old.

    For more information about church hours or contact information to Pursuit of God Church, click here

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