Gifting tree initiative provides presents to St Albans families this festive season

(Credit: Christmas Decorators London North)

A ‘Gifting Tree’ has been set up in St Albans to help provide presents for local families in need this Christmas.

Organised by Christopher Place shopping centre, the initiative aims to support residents impacted from the cost of living crisis.

The idea is that people pick a tag from the tree, buy a gift and return a wrapped present.

The innovative concept has been devised by Centre Manager of Christopher Place, Catherine Morris.

Catherine connected with local family support groups Hertfordshire Family Centre Service and InspireAll, after receiving help from St Albans Business Improvement District (BID).

The 59 beneficiaries selected for this year’s Gift Tree were identified by the family support teams. Their age, gender and gift theme were then written on the tag for guidance.  

Catherine says she has received a huge amount of support from local businesses and residents in St Albans.

Commenting on the initiative, she said: “The Gifting Tree has been helping to spread joy in the community since 2019 – it was dedicated to local nursing homes and residents received gifts from the tree to put a smile on their faces.

“This year, after speaking to local organisations who support struggling families in St Albans, I thought our Gifting Tree could help spread a little joy to these local families with presents perfectly suited to them.

“The Gifting Tree is a simple idea – pick a tag from the tree, buy the gift, then wrap and return the present, however, incredibly the tags never made it to the tree, as all were picked in advance by generous St Albans businesses such as staff at S J Sourcing, customers of Dylans, the owner of the White Swan plus family and friends.

“On Christmas Day, it’s a lovely thought that a family, who perhaps were dreading Christmas, will have a surprise gift, from Santa. Thank you to everyone, I am so grateful.”

Founded in 2002, InspireAll is a local charitable trust which provides quality leisure facilities and family services. Hertfordshire Family Centre Service supports children, young people, their parents, families and carers across the county.

Head of Family Support at Hertfordshire Family Centre Service and InspireAll, Liz Applin, said: “Hertfordshire Family Centre Service is really excited to be part of this initiative to support St Albans families this year, making a difference at Christmas, which can be a very challenging time of year for everyone.”

Catherine added: “Thanks to the local family support services, St Albans BID and the generosity of local people and businesses, it is heartening to know that those who may be struggling a little more this Christmas will enjoy some sparkle and joy, and know they are being supported by their local community.”

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