French charity pays for kids’ vacation Children gesture during a live music concert of the Vacation for Everyone day event at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, Wednesday Aug. 19, 2015. The French charity Secours Populaire brought children from dozens of different countries, including those living through war, poverty or natural disasters, to join kids from France for a day of summer fun, allowing even those with limited means to take a vacation at the height of the French holiday season. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
French charity pays for kids’ vacation
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Paris takes in billions of euros each year from tourists. But the international vacation destination welcomed thousands of special visitors Aug. 19. It was part of a spirit of giving.
 
The French charity Secours Populaire brought children from dozens of different countries. The youngsters included those living through war. It included those living through poverty. It included those living through natural disasters. They joined kids from France for a day of summer fun. Even those with limited means got to take a vacation. And it came at the height of the French holiday season.
 
Thousands of children fanned out around Paris. They took part in a treasure hunt. Others played in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. Some took boat tours on the Seine River. They arrived in Paris after spending several weeks at summer camps. The camps were scattered throughout France. Both the Paris event and the camps were paid for by the charity.
 
The association's head of international cooperation is Corinne Makowski. She said the event aims to help some kids temporarily escape injustices and troubles. Taking holiday time off is impossible for many of the kids.
 
Amrla Shoufi attended the event with a group from civil war-torn Syria. It was his last full day in France. Then he was scheduled to return to his home city Sweida. It is near the Jordanian border. The 17-year-old had 10 days of painting, climbing, swimming and sightseeing. He said they were a welcome relief from the dangers of his home country.
 
"It is great to have a chance to get peace when you are at war," he said.
 
About 10,000 French adult volunteers helped organize the event.
 
Ten-year-old Chris Delaroux is from the eastern French city Metz. He painted a multicolor model of the Eiffel Tower. He was next to a concert stage while he painted. He drew inspiration as he sat in front of the Paris monument. The event capped his two weeks at a camp. He said he played and created memories with children from all over the world during that time. He said he learned to embrace similarities rather than focus on differences.
 
"We are all the same," he said.

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