MORE commonly known as Restos du Cœur, this charitable organization has been in operation since the comedian and actor Coluche launched the idea on September 26, 1985.
Coluche, or to give him his real name Michel Colucci, became known for his irreverent attitude towards politics and the Establishment and he incorporated this into much of his material.
The basic idea of Restos du Cœur is that they collect food, money, books, toys and clothes for the needy and the homeless.
Anyone can use the Restos and buy a basic meal of soup and bread at the price of a full meal at another restaurant; all this helps to boost the charity fund to provide meals and other necessities for those in need.
Coluche had a passion about the cause and the first Restos du Cœur opened in Paris in December 1986. The ultimate goal at that time was to give away 200,000 meals a day with 8.5 million being distributed in the first winter.
Singer and songwriter Jean-Jaques Goldman wrote a song called 'Les Restos du Cœur' which included some lyrics being sung/read by celebrities and a television show netted the organisation several million francs.
In the European Parliament in February 1986 Coluche pleaded the Restos' cause after he learnt surplus products were costing more to stockpile rather than distribute to the poor and needy.
Later that same year, Coluche died aged just 41 but his voice was heard and in 1987 the surplus was indeed turned over to four organisations.
Sadly France has a huge housing problem and charities like Restos du Cœur stop hundreds of homeless people dying of hunger and cold each winter.
This week Restos du Cœur launched their 24th campaign against the backdrop of a precarious financial climate, which leaves those supporting the cause digging ever deeper into their pockets.
The launch took place at a warehouse in Paris. Xavier Bertrand, the Employment Minister, offered government support which echoed the request by Coluche years before.
The warehouse had received the week before 20 metric tonnes of food and had 100 boxes ready packed with fruit, yoghurt, potatoes, sardines and cartons of milk.
More than five years ago 90,000 people were helped, in the last campaign the number had risen to 700,000 people.
The 16 week winter aid distributes around 60,000 meals to 2,500 households. With the current economic climate the number of people turning to Restos for assistance is expected to rise further.
The unemployed, the elderly, retirees, single parents, students, the elderly and those on low wages there is no doubt the pressure on Restos will be high.
Support comes from Veronica Colucci and various artists who ask for more volunteers and donations who turn to the public at this time of year to assist this important cause.
But the association's president, Olivier Berthe, has said that the €5 million given by the government for this year's campaign and the €80 million budget for 2009 from PEAD (Plan Européan d'aide aux démunis) for France will still not be sufficient to meet the rising costs faced by Restos du Cœur.
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