No package ever arrived for Bray J.
Fortunately, Bray J. had both maternal and paternal family that love him and made sure he had a smile on his face that Christmas morning.
The reality, however, is that many children are not as fortunate as Bray J. They will not have a smile on their face Christmas morning, as there will be no presents under the tree.
Because an Angel Tree package never arrived for Bray J., his grandmother, Shelia Wootan (right), was inspired to create the Striped Angel Tree. The Striped Angel Tree allows Blount County inmates to complete a request to help provide Christmas for their child.
The process is simple.
Wootan and her husband, Delynn, hand deliver the applications to the Blount County Correctional Facility each November. Inmates are encouraged to complete and return the applications.
The name of the child is then placed on one of the Striped Angel Trees currently located at Terry Sligh Chevrolet, Main Street Family Urgent Care, and the Blountsville Utility Board.
Once the children’s name is chosen, gifts are purchased and placed under the Striped Angel Tree and Wootan wraps and delivers the gifts to the child’s family by Christmas Eve.
This year there are 67 children on the Striped Angel Tree that need sponsoring.
Although the situation of her son being in jail was not the best-case scenario for Bray J., Wootan believes that everything happens for a reason. She stated, “If our son had not gone to prison, and our grandson’s name had been chosen, Striped Angel Tree would not have been created.”
Fortunately, this story has a happy ending. Wootan’s son is no longer incarcerated, doing well, and has a relationship with Bray J.
Wootan wants to thank everyone who has helped make this project a success in the few short years it has been in existence. She has seen first-hand the difference it makes for the families who are raising a child of incarcerated parents. Wootan said, “It is worth all the hard work and effort to make Christmas special for children.”
Deadline to sponsor a child is Dec. 11. For more information, contact Shelia Wootan at 353-9627.