French charity gifts desserts to elderly alone at Christmas

Members of the public can buy festive treats in participating bakeries and online to gift to elderly people celebrating alone this year

24 December 2020
By Joanna York

Charity Étoilés & Solidaires has launched an initiative to bring festive cheer to elderly people celebrating alone this year – through the gift of patisserie.

The Noël Étoilé campaign launched by the charity this December has united 50 bakeries in Paris, from which customers can buy a dessert for an isolated elderly person. The desserts are then distributed via specialist organisations including le Centre d'Action sociale de la ville de Paris, le Secours Populaire and Paris en Compagnie.

Marie Guillois, founder of Étoilés & Solidaires told news source Le Figaro that the gifted desserts would go to some 175,000 isolated elderly people in the capital.

A list of participating bakeries can be found online here, and desserts can also be purchased online by people who do not live in the capital. 

Support throughout health crisis

This is not the first initiative Étoilés & Solidaires has launched a campaign during the health pandemic. At the start of confinement, the charity launched Les chefs livrent nos aînés (chefs deliver to the elderly), partnering with Michelin-starred chefs to create meal boxes.

Chefs including Pierre Gagnaire, Guillaume Gomez, and Georges Blanc came up with meal plans using products donated by producers, which were then delivered by volunteers from Petits Frères des pauvres and le Centre d'action sociale de la ville de Paris.

In normal circumstances, the charity would hold monthly meals and cooking workshops for vulnerable elderly people, but the health pandemic has made this impossible.

 

Charities creating new traditions for festive season

Other charities, which would normally host Christmas meals gathering together elderly people or the homeless over the festive season, have also had to innovate this year. 

Le Secours catholique normally organises Christmas meals on five barges in Paris, which have been cancelled this year. Instead, chef Damien Duquesne planned gourmet meals, 10,000 of which have been delivered, distributed in centres, or given to homeless people on the street, along with Christmas gifts.  

The Red Cross mobilised 60,000 volunteers to deliver festive hampers to the elderly, and has asked members of the public to create and send festive postcards, which will be delivered to elderly residents in care homes. Already, 500 cards and 300 hampers have been delivered. 

Since the beginning of confinement, Les Petits Frères des Pauvres has been keeping in contact with its 14,000 beneficiaries through telephone calls and home visits. For Christmas, elderly people in their network will be offered a meal at home with one or two volunteers. 

Isabelle Sénécal, manager of the Christmas appeal told Le Figaro: “We ask all people in France to maintain the spirit of generosity that we saw at the start of the first confinement, by taking care of the isolated people around them, even with just a telephone call, a cake or a visit.”

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Christmas: Grandparents should eat alone says French doctor

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