What is it about the Christmas ads that captures our hearts? | ActionAid UK

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last week, it will not have escaped you that the Christmas season is upon us. The big retailers are ringing the bells to say “it’s here, it’s launched”. John Lewis, as part of its annual tear-fest, has given us Monty the Penguin. M&S has Christmas fairies spreading festive kindness far and wide. Sainsbury's has pulled out the big guns for their First World War truce. No doubt there are more ads to come.

But what is it about these ads that captures our attention and makes them so heart-warming that people up and down the country find themselves wiping away a tear?

Elisa (third from the left) posing for a photograph with some of her family outside their home in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Elisa (third from the left) with her mother and four of her ten siblings outside their home in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Well, they highlight the joy of giving, of spreading cheer to loved ones, but they also tell a story, a story that captures the magic of a child’s happiness. A little boy whose imagination is so vivid that to him his toy penguin is real, so he buys him a playmate for Christmas to give him the same love and companionship that the boy sees all around him. Even the most cynical of us can’t fail to have our hearts a little melted by the sentiment of love, friends and family.

Our Christmas campaign

Today, we launch our Christmas campaign, and we hope that we can inspire some of the same sentiment to help children urgently in need. This Christmas, for thousands of children living in some of the world’s poorest countries — including the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Afghanistan, and Myanmar — their story is not a happy one, but one of desperation and fear of an uncertain future.

Children like six-year-old Elisa from the Democratic Republic of Congo are hungry and scared. Instead of going to school Elisa (pictured above) spends her days working with her mother, carrying heavy loads of glass bottles so they can earn enough money for their family to eat just one meal a day. You have the power to change that.

Give a child a future

Child sponsorship doesn’t just help one child, it benefits their loved ones and neighbours too. Just £15 a month, or 50p a day, helps ensure children get enough food to eat and the chance to go to school.

At ActionAid we’re asking if, this Christmas, you could sponsor a child like Elisa, and change their story to a story in which they too can experience joy and happiness and the chance of a better future.

Photo: ActionAid/Kate Holt