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Mary Kay Beard, Angel Tree

In 2004, over 550,000 gifts were sent by volunteers to the children of prisoners, all sent in the name of their incarcerated parents. This brought the cumulative total to more than 6.5 million children touched by Angel Tree since Mary Kay Beard founded it in 1982. This program is now in 45 countries internationally. Angel Tree branched out in 2003 to also develop summer camps and after-school, church-based mentoring, both structured specifically for these special children. Reach out in love to the more than two million children whose mothers and fathers are now in prisons, and help break the cycle where many of these children grow up to repeat the pattern and become prisoners.


Angel Tree Project

P.O. Box 1550 Merrifield, VA 22116


Telephone: (800) 55-ANGEL

FAX:(703) 456-4008

From Passionaries´┐ŻBank Robber, Safecracker, Most Wanted

“They could have been Bonnie and Clyde. A striking, well-dressed woman accompanied by a neatly dressed man entered a small bank in the South and walked up to the lone teller. At first glance, the bank teller noticed only the flaming red hair. Then he saw the shotgun in his face. “Just give me the money, Hon,” the attractive redhead drawled, and the teller handed it over. This “Bonnie” was Mary Kay Mahaffey: bank robber and safecracker. Her photo hung in post offices, on the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list. Mary Kay was on the run for the next five years. First she was evading the police with her husband, Paul, who taught her everything she needed to know about guns, safes, and bank alarms. Paul ditched her a couple of years into their life of crime and she teamed up with a couple of buddies to pull bank stickups and other thefts across the southern part of the U.S. Eventually, the FBI caught up with her and she was arrested in Peoria, Illinois. Within a few days, the warrants began arriving at the jail. In addition to 11 federal indictments, four different states filed 35 charges against her, ranging from grand larceny to armed robbery. She was told she could spend between 75 and 180 years behind bars. But she didn’t. Released after serving fewer than six years, she married ex-prisoner Don Beard and went on to start a program that has touched the lives of more than six million children of prisoners over the next 25 years. How did she do it? How did Mary Kay go from America’s Most Wanted to the Founder of Angel Tree?...”