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Christmas Drive-Through for At-Risk Youth Still a Success Despite a Challenging Year

Media contact: Dr. Mona Davies
Community Outreach Ministry
Photos: Courtesy of Community Outreach Ministry
December 23, 2020

Christmas Drive-Through for At-Risk Youth Still a Success Despite a Challenging Year

A winning partnership for children of incarcerated parents across the country, Community Outreach Ministry together with the Prison Fellowship Angel Tree Program® have delivered Christmas cheer to countless children’s lives for decades. Since 1982, Angel Tree has provided Christmas gifts to 11 million “angels.” Since 2000, Community Outreach Ministry, a nonprofit organization cofounded by Dr. Mona Davies and her husband Bob has also been dedicated to helping these youngsters escape the road of criminal behavior and divert the prison track by “giving at-risk kids a second chance to be winners and champions.”

Because of COVID-19 a “Christmas Drive-Through” was hosted on December 13, 2020 with the support of Elks Lodge #2591 Larry Ryan-Trustee in Wildomar. The Christmas gifts were placed inside the trunks of each car by volunteers Jennifer Ekstrom and Patti O’Leary. And, for those children who could not participate at the event the Davies delivered gifts to their homes. O’Leary’s nephew Elijah found Community Outreach Ministry online and offered to volunteer and share his story.

“Hello, my name is Elijah O’Leary, and I am 14 years old. Since I was little, I became an Angel Tree recipient of Christmas gifts from my incarcerated mother. I have not seen or heard from my mom since I was 3, so getting those gifts was important. I live with my dad in Texas and I am visiting my great-aunt Patti O’Leary in Hemet. My mother has been in and out of prison for years because of drugs. I e-mailed Community Outreach Ministry because I wanted to help other Angel Tree children “feel like I did” when gifts arrived at Christmas from my mom. For a few years, those gifts were all I received, so it was nice. When I am around other Angel Tree kids, I feel like we all understand each other, and I am not embarrassed. And people like you make me feel like I can really be somebody…That feels good because I do not hear that very often. So, what you are doing is special and it means a lot to kids like me…A lot of people look down at us, so I tried to be nice because people like you have been nice to me and that helps kids like us a lot.”

The event has been made possible with the partnership of In-N-Out Burger who sent a tractor trailer from Baldwin Park along with their enthusiastic employees who cooked and served lunch. We are also grateful to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors and the Inland Empire Community Foundation, Wells Fargo, Family and Kids Foundation of Riverside, Southland Arthritis Rheumatology, Cathie Smith, Emily Stitt, and Denise Ronzello and clients of Shear Expressions Hair Salon, Coast to Coast LLC, Secret Service Riders, and our board members and volunteers. Thank you to our assistant Angel Tree coordinators Janice Hare of Mt. View Church in Wildomar for contacting families for wish lists and Johnna Hose of Destinations Explored by Dream Vacations of Murrieta for writing wish lists on hundreds of Angel Tree tags for children ages zero to eighteen across Southwest Riverside County.

Wells Fargo Dina Attia District Manager for the Inland Crossroads District shared, “2020 has been a challenging year. It has given us a time to get our priorities straight and allowed us to identify what really matters in our lives. It is an honor to continue to partner with Davies’ and the Community Outreach Ministry. They give a glimmer of hope and happiness to children who are in much need of it. We are lucky to support in any way we can.” We also appreciate Elizabeth Terrazas Branch Manager Lake Elsinore for coordinating Wells Fargo team members to shop, wrap and make Christmas special for these children.

We welcome partners and sponsors to help support scholarships for at-risk kids for year-round mentor protégé workshops in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. To donate send this text message: DONATE CHAMPIONS to this number: 609-212-0627 or donate online at

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