Here’s how the Hartlepool Giving Tree works - and how you can donate a Christmas gift
Charitable gift-givers were left at a loss this year after lockdown prohibited shoppers from buying gifts listed on a well-known Hartlepool shopping centre Giving Tree.
The tree has stood tall in Middleton Grange Shopping Centre for a decade and allows shoppers to buy gifts for children who are from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The gift list has now been published online - this is how you can support kids in need this Christmas.
How does the Giving Tree work??
The Giving Tree is usually decorated with gift tags on which children write what they’d like for Christmas.
Tags often include information such as a toy, gender, age and potentially an item of clothing that a child may need for the winter months - such as pyjamas or socks.
Kids who take part tend to come from disadvantaged families or are otherwise vulnerable.
Shoppers can then take a tag and buy for the child, they then return the tag with the gifts to the department store or designated area for distribution before Christmas Day.
What happened to the Giving Tree in 2020?
Due to the coronavirus pandemic the tree has not been able to operate in the usual way and the collection was under threat.
However, organisers of the Hartlepool Giving Tree now joined with design company In Studio to launch a virtual giving tree.
When the campaign moved online, organisers expected 1,500 gifts to be donated.
However, just 10 days later, this total sits at 104,829, and the campaign has been shared across Facebook and Twitter with more than 28,000 shares and 14,000 retweets.
How do I donate a gift?
In order to take part, simply visit www.hartlepoolgivingtree.co.uk and select a tag.
You will be given the age, gender and item a specific child wishes to receive and an address to send their present to.
Where will my gift go?
Once you’ve chosen your tag and purchased your gift, you should then send it to Middleton Grange Shopping Centre where a team of helpful elves are processing presents and wrapping them in time to be delivered for Christmas Day.
The shopping centre works with local charities Hartlepool refuge Harbour, which provides safe environments for families affected by domestic abuse, and Hartlepool Carers, which supports unpaid carers in the surrounding community including children.
However, due to the unprecedented success of the 2020 Gifting Tree, organisers are approaching other UK charities to give festive donations to as many people as possible, not just in Hartlepool.
How popular has the gift tree been?
The tree usually results in 750 local kids receiving their dream gift on 25 December each year.
However, in a year which has seen many acts of kindness, over 100,000 people from around the world have now pledged to buy a gift.
The virtual tree has no limit on the number of tags you can fit on its branches, resulting in thousands of kids getting the opportunity to ask for their Christmas wishes to come true.
Due to the economic impact of coronavirus lockdowns across the UK, more children this year than any other since the tree began, will experience hardship and poverty this Christmas.
Middleton Grange manager and founder of the Hartlepool gift tree, Mark Rycraft said: “The Giving Tree is a campaign that allows us to work together to alleviate the stress our fellow neighbours may have – and in a year as difficult as this one has been, this has never been more important.”