The Giving Tree, a cross-community initiative run by Belfast Central Mission (BCM) and the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) will again be in Marks and Spencer in Donegall Place this Christmas from Monday 30 November to Saturday 12 December.
The Giving Tree gives members of the public an opportunity to donate a toy or gift to local children with the gifts being 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.
M&S store Manager, Colin McGreevy, paid tribute to both charities and to the generous M&S shoppers. Mr. McGreevy said:
“Marks and Spencer is delighted to continue our support for The Giving Tree partnership along with Belfast Central Mission and the Society of St Vincent de Paul. This is such a worthwhile project, which encompasses the true meaning of Christmas – helping others and reaching out to those who are struggling in these often-difficult times. We know our customers are especially generous at this time of year and keen to offer support to those who need a little extra help at Christmas.”
The two charities have been involved in giving toy and food parcels to local disadvantaged children, families and older people for many years. Sixteen years ago they joined together to approach Marks & Spencer with the idea of having a ‘Giving Tree’ in the store. 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, especially this year, those who are facing severe financial difficulties.
Pauline Brown, Regional Manager of SVP, comments: “Each year more and more families approach us for support, especially over the festive period when budgets are stretched to capacity. It is becoming increasingly difficult for many families to heat their homes, clothe their children and put food on the table – add the stress of finding money for gifts and the situation soon becomes overwhelming.
“The Giving Tree is a great way for people to provide a gift that could bring a smile to a child in their local community whose family may be facing financial difficulties this Christmas.”
Rev Richard Johnston, BCM Superintendent, said: “As a charity, BCM has been supporting people across Northern Ireland for more than 125 years and will continue to do so, particularly those most vulnerable in society. The support from Marks and Spencer for the Giving Tree has been invaluable and the members of the public have been so generous over the years.”
If you want to take part just pop into Marks & Spencer, Donegall Place, between 30 November and 12 December and find the Giving Tree on the second floor.
Caption: Cormac Doherty helps to launch the Giving Tree for BCM and SVP in Marks & Spencer, Donegall Place, Belfast.