One of the greatest highlights of Christmas Day for any child is ripping open a wrapped present from under the Christmas tree. This act of gift-giving at Christmas originated from the biggest present God gave the world – His son Jesus Christ. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.”
The birth of Jesus on Christmas saw the Three Wise Kings bring Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. This act of giving is believed to bring good fortune in the year to come. The gesture of acquiring, preparing and bestowing something of value to friends and family is a tradition that has been honoured and practiced all over the world for thousands of years during Christmas.
Nothing melts my heart more on a Christmas morning than seeing the huge smiles on my children’s faces as they unwrap their carefully wrapped gifts. However, there are many who are less fortunate and unable to celebrate the festivities.
Utulivu Women’s Group in conjunction with Reading Connect have been running an initiative to help combat this issue. They run the “Christmas Giving Tree Appeal.” This initiative aims to ensure that these children get a present they want on Christmas Day thanks to the generous donations from well-wishers and businesses of the local community.
Esther Oenga, Trustee at Utulivu Women’s Group said, “the Giving Tree Appeal makes a big difference to the children, many of whim would not have a present to unwrap on Christmas Day.”
How Does It Work?
- Utulivu provides their Giving Tree gift lists to Connect Reading. Utulivu works with vulnerable and less fortunate members of the community and can identify and provide children who would benefit from this initiative.
- The children are provided a budget of £25 to select a gift of their choice from local shops, high street or online.
- Connect Reading uses this list to write and distribute tags to local firms and donors including the name and age of the child.
- These tags are then sent, and they are bought for the children who then return them back to Connect Reading.
- Utulivu volunteers then collect the gifts and distribute them to these children and families.
This Giving Tree initiative has been running for 10 years in Reading and has been very successful. Last year, Utulivu managed to donate 50 gifts to these children. This year we hope to help many more.
Below is some of the feedback Utulivu has received:
“I cannot express just how much the Giving Tree makes a difference each year to my family. I would otherwise not be able to give them a gift as I can’t afford to buy my children one.” (Mum of two)
“This is the best Christmas gift I have ever received. Utulivu, you’ve made my year. Thank you so much.” – Imani O.
“These gifts have changed my child’s Christmas. I was under a lot of stress and anxiety wondering whether my child would have a gift to open for Christmas as finances are so tight this year. This donation means so much to us as not only does he have a gift for Christmas, but he has the gift he has been eyeing for months. Thank you so much Utulivu. Seeing his smile as he opened his gift is the best Christmas I could have asked for.”
The Giving Tree has captured the hearts and minds of the people of Reading. Their generosity has made a world of difference to the lives of many disadvantaged children in Reading over the years. It has made these children feel special and cared for.
Utulivu would like to thank all the well-wishers, donors and volunteers who’ve worked tirelessly to put a smile on a child’s face and make this initiative a success. As we prepare to launch this year’s Christmas Giving Tree, we would like to appeal to more well wishers to participate in this initiative and help us to reach out to even more children and make their Christmas amazing.
If anyone would be interested in finding out more or how they can be involved, please contact Utulivu Women’s Group by visiting contact us page.