New twist to virtual gifts

International development charity World Vision is using social networking website Facebook and video sharing site YouTube to promote its alternative gift catalogue this Christmas.

Facebook users who want to give an alternative Christmas present to a friend can send them a list of possible gifts and a budget. Facebook will then tell the recipient to pick what they would like. A link to the item on World Vision's online shop is then sent to the giver.

Examples of gifts include a meal for 70 working children in Cambodia in the £5-£15 price range, or 20 chicks and a coop for a family in Sri Lanka in the £31-plus range.

World Vision's tongue-in-cheek YouTube clip follows a fed-up teenager who receives the wrong video game console at Christmas. The film, called No child should have to endure this, aims to make viewers think about their wasteful Christmas shopping habits and how the money could be better spent.

Andrea Russell, communications manager for World Vision, said: "I think we'd be missing a great opportunity if we didn't acknowledge how significant interactive websites like Facebook, MySpace, Bebo and YouTube have become. Having a presence on networking sites also allows us to appeal to a wider audience, including the young."

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