For most, Christmas is the season that brings joy to families and friends, with Christmas gift exchanging and Christmas shopping stress. However, for some, the idea of Christmas shopping is not something they can experience or enjoy. Middleton Grange Shopping Centre in Hartlepool normally hold an annual Giving Tree each year to support local charities in the town. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 situation, they were unable to do things the way they normally would this year, instead they turned it into a virtual campaign. Whilst their original expectation of donations was 1,500 gifts, just 18 days later this total landed at 167,409 donations. The campaign had also been shared across Facebook and Twitter with over 28,000 shares and 14,000 retweets- even people from America tried to take part.

To get involved, visitors to the website were encouraged to choose a tag, purchase a gift and then send it through the mail to the shopping centre where a team of helpful elves process the immense number of presents and wrap them up in time for Santa to deliver the gifts to children on Christmas day. Middleton Grange chose to partner with Hartlepool Carers, a charity which provides support for those who find themselves as carers for someone in their life. They also support Harbour Support service, a domestic abuse charity that has worked for over 32 years to improve the lives of families living with domestic abuse and for those who are forced to flee their homes quickly and leave all possessions behind.

Mark Rycraft, centre manager at Middleton Grange said:” We have been blown away by the success of this campaign , and we are incredibly grateful that the town, the country, and, it seems , the world has come together to support these amazing charities.

We want to say a huge thank you for everyone that has donated so far, and an even bigger thankyou to InStudio who created this amazing website for us. It really is a fantastic way to end the year, and we have been amazed at the kindness shown by strangers in our local community and across the UK.”

Hartlepool Giving Tree goes viral with over 160,000 gifts donated- and with a global helping hand