What’s better than a freshly cut Christmas tree?
A freshly cut Christmas tree from Oxfam -- with proceeds going towards people living in extreme poverty at a time when the gift of giving can get lost in materialistic rituals.
For more than 30 years, Victorians have been getting freshly-cut Christmas trees home-delivered from Oxfam Australia, and now the service has branched out to include residents in Sydney and Adelaide.
Volunteer Brian Moran has been involved with the program for more than 29 years, after it started out as a small operation in Carlton with pine trees delivered to a small number of families.
“We raised about $230,000 last year, delivering about 2,700 trees to homes across Melbourne and this year we hope to better that,” Moran told The Huffington Post Australia.
“The money raised will go towards Oxfam’s life-saving work tackling poverty and injustice throughout the world – the perfect gift this Christmas,” Moran said.
The project is one close to Moran’s heart having become involved with it in his mid 20s.
“Back then I had a car with a tow-bar and figured I’d like to volunteer,” Moran said.
But after three years with more and more orders flowing in, the organisation, then named Community Aid Abroad decided to can the service due to lack of drivers.
“I’m a bit of an entrepreneur in my own right and it intrigued me they would want to stop something that was growing so fast,” Moran said.
“I was a bit like a dog with a bone and offered to take it out of the office into my home in Ivanhoe,” Moran said.
But they declined, assuming Moran wasn’t serious. That was until he asked them for the customer mailing list from the previous years.
“They said no, so I offered to buy it from them for $10,000 -- the exact amount of money we’d made from the trees the previous year,” Moran said.
It was then they agreed Moran could spearhead the service, running it from his home and giving him one volunteer - a student from Swinburne University.
It wasn’t long before Moran solved the problem of lack of drivers, either.
“I knew Four Wheel Drive Clubs had a bit of a bad reputation in Victoria due to driving in the bush so I sent out a letter to 44 clubs asking whether they’d like to be part of the project,” Moran said.
Now, with some 200 drivers -- around 70 of whom are long-term Oxfam supporters and the other 130 members of various Four Wheel Drive clubs -- Moran admits he’s hardly surprised when drivers come back to the depot wanting to deliver even more after finishing their required run.
“It’s almost second only to Santa Claus. You get to knock on these families’ doors and witness the kids’ excitement,” Moran said.
The trees are grown in a sustainable manner at the Dandenong Christmas Tree Farm and are roughly 1.7 metres high and priced at $89 (delivery inclusive) with $50 going towards Oxfam’s long-term development work in both Indigenous Australia and the 94 countries it works with to overcome poverty and injustice.
“There’s something very special about our pine Christmas trees. It really is a gift that gives twice -- to your family -- but also because $50 of that sale goes towards creating a fairer world,” Moran said.
More information about Oxfam's Christmas Tree campaign here.