Neighborhood Tree of Love returns

NASHUA – As one strolls down Main Street, he or she may see clothes and jewelry on display at the storefront windows. During the holidays, there might even be some extra lights or holiday decor. But jajaBelle’s Pastry and Coffee Shop presents something different in the window.

Yes, it’s a Christmas tree, but it’s not just any Christmas tree. It’s Belle’s of Joy: A Neighborhood Tree of Love, and it’s making its appearance for the second year in a row.

This tree features a mix of ornaments, socks and gloves. Many presents sit below the tree. There are board games, stuffed animals and toys. However, there is also toilet paper, deodorant, shampoo, trash bags and cold medicine. All presents that have been brought to the bakery come from those in the community.

Business owner Jessica dePontbriand said the focus of the tree is to get people to remember others in need all year, not just during the holidays.

“Basic needs like toilet paper, light bulbs, shaving cream and razors never go away,” dePontbriand said.

One thing in particular that dePontbriand said is needed are gift cards for year round purposes – such as a birthday, or for everyday necessities.

This year, the tree will be serving eight different locations around the area: Marguerite’s Place, Bridges, Girls Inc., Nashua Children’s Home, Police Athletic League (PAL), The Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter’s Meals for Kids, Foster the Joy Project and the Front Door Agency. dePontbriand said she makes sure every gift that comes in without a specific designation goes to an organization that is a good fit.

“If someone comes in and says, ‘Hey we have this item,’ we will find the right match, I promise you,” dePontbriand said.

Her goal is to fill the entire window with gifts and basic necessities. dePontbriand will be collecting donations for the next month. All gifts for Christmas will be distributed to the organizations before Christmas. dePontbriand said the rest will be distributed after the holidays.

Within the first week of setting up her tree, dePontbriand said, her customers had already claimed 75 percent of the Children’s Home requests. Also, the Amherst Lowe’s delivered three boxes full of trash bags, detergent and batteries after visiting during the Winter Holiday Stroll and many others since then have come in to look at what the organizations have listed for donations.

There is also a second tree set up near the door of the bakery with tags on it of requests from the different organizations. The organizations have made requests, as follows:

Marguerite’s Place

Gift cards to gas stations, grocery stores and department stores, along with Nashua city bus passes, diapers, laundry detergent, umbrellas and cough and cold medicine;

Bridges

Cleaning supplies, toilet paper, tissues, pots and pans, gift certificates, trash bags;

Children’s Home

Gift cards for birthdays, and a specific list of children and the presents they would like is listed in the shop;

PAL

Gift cards to fast food restaurants and barber shops, along with body spray, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner and socks;

Girls Inc.

Clothing such as bathing suits, underwear, socks, leggings and winter jackets, along with school supplies, shampoo and conditioner and hair elastics;

Foster the Joy Project

Gift cards, stuffed animals, blankets and toys;

Front Door Agency

Gift cards, toys, clothes, blankets and winter jackets;

Meals for Kids

Gift cards.

A full list for each organization can be found at the shop. dePontbriand said Belle’s of Joy: A Neighborhood Tree of Love is a very humbling tree.

“All kinds of people come in to donate because, in life, we do what we can and when people ask for something as simple as trash bags or diapers, people want to help,” she said. “It’s a community tree. It brings a lot of joy to many people, including those who can contribute.”

To donate, visit jajaBelle’s at 182 Main St.

Grace Pecci can be reached at 594-1243, or at gpecci@nashuatelegraph.com.

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