The Tree that keeps on Gifting

By Kate McGowan

The most magical time of the year is fast approaching, or is it? Walking through Belfast this year, it’s hard to find oneself in the Christmas spirit. The tree still stands tall and the lights still glisten in the cold, frosty night but something is very clearly missing; the festive cheer.

However, local sweet shop, Love, Treats and Shakes, has recognised that this Christmas is set to be a difficult time for many and have decided that instead of focusing on the negative effects brought about by the current pandemic to give back.

Love, Treats and Shakes is a festive beacon, situated on the unusually quiet, Lower Ormeau Road. The shop front, usually crowded with customers, and noisy with the whirling sound of a milkshake maker, now features an inviting, vibrant window display of art and an enormous Christmas tree, covered with brightly coloured bobbles and glowing lights. However, this tree is very important as it is not only a beautiful decoration but a Gifting Tree. A Gifting Tree is a heartwarming concept in which anyone can leave a gift for charity that helps families who have fallen on hard times.

Shop owner Courtney Emes commented on the concept, “We thought it would be a great idea to introduce this (The Gifting Tree) to our shop and help those who have fallen on harder times.” She said, “I think it’s more important this year, a lot of people have been left without work or had reduced hours compared to other years. Families have been separated and this has put a strain on mental health.”

The tree features the traditional Christmas decorations but also nestled within the branches are ice cream cone decorations with labels suggesting ages and gift ideas for

those who will benefit. Underneath the tree, is a heartwarming display of presents, ranging from lego sets to clothes and toiletries. These generous gifts and the tree act as a reminder that there are always people less fortunate than ourselves and this year in particular it is so important to help others, as we are not alone in these unprecedented times.

Courtney commented, “We have teamed up with Woman’s Aid who have received a much higher number of cases this year with significantly less donations than usual. This is our chance to help those in need.”

Love, Treats and Shakes have displayed a compassion and selflessness that is especially needed this Christmas. This is, after all, what Christmas is all about.