ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Les Pères Noël en Campagne d’Hiver
by Ludovic Tomas
Translated Tuesday 19 December 2006, by
Solidarity. The “Secours Populaire Français” (SPF), a French non-profit organisation, has launched, for its 30th consecutive year, a campaign to provide decent year-end holiday celebrations to the poorest segment of the population.
Thirty years old, and still green with hope. In 1976, the SPF invented an assistant for Santa Claus who would help him carry out his mission, because the man in red has so much to do that it’s difficult for him to come down all those chimneys.
Specifically, the SPF aims to help the poorest segment of the population who have trouble offering a decent Christmas to their children. “At first, our green Santa was the brunt of jokes. Since he’s green, some would say he’s not ripe,” remembers Julien Lauprêtre, SPF president, as he reminded me that there has never been any antagonism between the two bearded gentlemen.
Over time, the green Santas have become familiar protagonists of the year-end holidays. Every December, they pick up their pilgrim’s staff and fill their bag with solidarity.
Whether on bicycles, in sleighs, in city buses, in train stations, schools or companies - whether stationed outside department stores, at community loto games or festivities, the green Santas collect toys and holiday items as well as financial donations.
A right to Christmas magic
“Every year, during the holiday season, we see the shops overflowing with gifts and harried clients and sales staff. This is a reality, but there are also those who are left out of the fun”, reminds Julien Lauprêtre. Tens of thousands of families are just as entitled to the magic of Christmas, and are perhaps more in need of it.
This is in the same vein as having a right to a summer vacation, which the SPF has been fighting for since its creation. As a continuation of its “1936-2006: Vacations are not a Luxury” campaign, the association will continue organising mountain vacations through grants.
Beyond the question of gifts, Christmas also represents an occasion to share in the conviviality which the SPF hopes to make available to all through its Christmas trees, shows, holiday dinners and other festivities.
“For children who are not born with a silver spoon in their mouth, it’s important to make a gesture. Those of you whose hearts are not completely cemented over – do it!”, wrote Pierre Perret, the sponsor for this year’s operation.
The arts, sports, and media worlds have yet again mobilized around this initiative. Robin Renucci, Véronique Genest, Mylène Demongeot, Laura Flessel, Anne Sinclair, Line Renaud and Marcel Amont are among those supporting the project.
Singers who are popular with young people, such as Lââm, Amel Bent or M. Pokora have joined their voices and associated their names with the “A Christmas for All” title on the “Let them Dream” album. All profits from sales of these products will go to SPF’s projects, (they are also is offering a range of “solidarity” gifts on the Internet site).
“Friends from around the world”
Lastly, the green Santas will not forget their “friends from around the world”, with visits to Peru, Madagascar, Nicaragua, Iran, Israel, Palestine and Salvador. In January, a Christmas party will be organised for the 950 children who are still traumatised from the hostage-taking tragedy in Beslan, Northern Ossetia (September 1, 2004).
The Green Santas
of Secours Populaire Français,
9-11, rue Froissart, 75140 Paris CEDEX 03. CCP 654 37 H 020.
Site internet : www.secourspopulaire.fr