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Dame Helen Mirren says “it’s ever so sad”. Singer Will Young invites people to look into his tear-filled, “weepy” eyes. And comedian Rob Brydon urges people to “give a loo [toilet] to the world”. Confused? Well, don’t be. It is all part of a new television advertisement for Oxfam Unwrapped, a fun campaign that aims to encourage people to buy presents with a positive impact this Christmas.

The advertisement, which has just gone to air in England, pokes fun at the traditional charity appeal ads that appear on our screens every Christmas, by stating how millions of people in Britain suffer every year from receiving gifts they do not want. It is a tongue-in-cheek way of raising awareness of the Oxfam campaign.

“Oxfam Unwrapped is a novel idea where you can buy friends and relatives presents that really make a difference to other people’s lives,” said Helena Bonham Carter, who appears in the advertisement weeping over a novelty fish. “Why buy someone something they don’t want or need – like a flapping, singing fish? Oxfam’s gifts are life-changing – that’s serious – but Oxfam Unwrapped is fun, too.”

Oxfam Unwrapped was launched in 2004, and has since gone on to sell over 1.2 million gifts to help people in 49 countries. The campaign seeks to improve the lives of poverty-stricken people around the world by allowing consumers to purchase a wide selection of items needed by communities in developing countries. The buyer can choose from items such as fertilizer, toilets, condoms, essential medicines, and school books , which are then donated to countries where they are needed. The buyer receives a gift card and fridge magnet to say what they have bought and where it has gone.

“Oxfam Unwrapped has proven itself as the ultimate way of giving unusual presents,” said Oxfam Director, Barbara Stocking. “Presents that are thoughtful and fun, but far-reaching at the same time.”

All of the items in the Oxfam Unwrapped campaign have been identified as the things that will make the biggest difference to help individual communities escape the effects of poverty. Categories include emergency relief, farming, health, and education, and individual items include sheep, mosquito nets, protect women packs, and rainwater harvesting systems. However, if you buy a sheep, you do not need to worry that it will be wrapped up, ears and all, and shipped off to Africa. Instead, the money from a purchase will go towards funding the program the item represents. For example, by purchasing a sheep or a pig, a donation will be made to an agriculture program, and the purchase of condoms will fund one of Oxfam’s health programs.

“Original presents are hard to find – we’re offering interesting and novel gifts that will help tackle poverty at the same time,” said Oxfam Australia’s Executive Director, Andrew Hewett. “They have been carefully chosen, and are tried and tested aspects of Oxfam’s everyday work to help communities in more than 40 countries. Every gift makes a difference whether you spend $10 or $200.”

More information about the campaign, including links to Oxfam Unwrapped programs around the world, is available here, and to view the television advertisement, click here.

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