With Christmas fast-approaching, Belfast Central Mission (BCM) and the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) have today launched the Giving Tree at Marks & Spencer (M&S) on Donegall Place, in a bid to encourage shoppers to purchase an extra gift for a child in need this year.
This is the 19th year that the two charities have partnered in the cross-community Giving Tree initiative to support those in desperate need within local communities who are struggling to feed their families and heat their homes.
The Giving Tree, which will be on the second floor of the M&S Belfast Store on Donegall Place from 25 November to 8 December, offers members of the public an opportunity to donate a toy or gift to local children. Gifts will then be divided equally between SVP and BCM before being distributed to families in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Shoppers choose a tag from the Giving Tree which asks them to buy a gift for a boy or girl and gives the age of the recipient. The present should then be placed, unwrapped, under the Giving Tree.
Michael Sands, St Vincent de Paul’s North Belfast Area President, comments: “We would like to thank M&S and their generous customers for their ongoing support. Each year, gifts that have been donated to the Giving Tree make a real difference to families who just cannot find money for presents on top of caring for their families. While it is a joyous time for most; Christmas can be extremely stressful and overwhelming for others, bringing with it a great degree of financial stress.
“Each year more and more families approach us for support, especially over the festive period when budgets are stretched to capacity. The Giving Tree is a great way for people to help us support even more families by providing a gift that could bring a smile to a child in their local community this Christmas morning.”
Brian Burns, Director of BCM, said: “This partnership between the two charities, with the support of M&S, has inspired so many people. Over the years, we have been humbled by the kindness and generosity shown by those who have donated. We know, from speaking to many, that there really is as much pleasure for those who give, as for those who receive.”
Colin McGreevy, M&S Belfast Store Manager, said: “Christmas should be a happy time for everyone but for many the financial burden can be overwhelming. M&S Belfast is delighted to once again be doing its bit to help promote this very worthwhile project which encompasses the true meaning of Christmas, reaching out to families who are really struggling in difficult times.
“What may seem like a very simple gesture to one person can make a world of difference to another so we’re actively encouraging our customers, who are particularly generous at this time of year, to consider buying an extra gift to place under the Giving Tree that could bring a little bit of festive cheer to someone less fortunate.”
Michael Sands concluded: “The busyness of the Christmas season can mask the reality of the difficulties faced daily by many people; the lonely, the forgotten, the vulnerable and those who are facing severe financial difficulties.
“I would like to encourage as many people as possible to visit the Giving Tree in M&S and to contribute just one gift to help others. If you want to take part just pop into Marks & Spencer, Donegall Place, between 25 November and 8 December and find the Giving Tree on the second floor.”
For more information on donating to or applying for help from the Giving Tree, please contact BCM on 028 9024 1917 or SVP on 028 9035 1561.