(from left) Vickie Scaljon, event chair; Magda Vourtsis, honored guest; Elaine Carlos, event sponsor

It has been five years since National Philoptochos announced its Appeal for the Welfare of the People of Greece. The severe economic crisis not only caused food shortages and lack of housing, but also affected the spiritual and emotional welfare of our brothers and sisters in Greece and Cyprus.

Since that time, the crisis has continued unabated, and the original Appeal has evolved into the National Philoptochos Aid to Greece and Cyprus Fund. Since the beginning of the campaign in February 2012, National Philoptochos has raised and disbursed over $500,000 from this fund, and additional funds have been disbursed from the National Philoptochos Emergency Fund, Autism Assistance Fund, General Medical Fund and IOCC Fund, bringing total disbursements to nearly $700,000.

Recently, Bishop Sevastianos, spiritual advisor to Philoptochos, encouraged the membership to increase its efforts to support this critical, worthy cause. Accordingly, the “Ypapanti” Philoptochos Chapter of Annunciation Cathedral in Atlanta, held a fundraiser to support humanitarian relief efforts in Greece and Cyprus. Chaired by National Philoptochos Board member Vickie Scaljon and hosted by Elaine F. Carlos, an afternoon tea was held at the Cherokee Town Club in Atlanta. A large, generous group of Philoptochos women from throughout the Atlanta area attended to support this important cause. Guests were very moved after viewing the video about the work of “Apostoli,” (www.philoptochos.org/outreach/aid-to-greece-and-cyprus/) the humanitarian affiliate organization of the Archdiocese of Athens.

This work includes providing food and meals to families and children in need, while also supporting local agricultural industry, creating jobs through the distribution of fresh produce, dairy products and bulk nutrients.

National Philoptochos Board member and attorney Irene Steffas also spoke at the gathering. Mrs. Steffas had recently visited many of the groups that Apostoli assists, and she shared her observations and thoughts, providing insight and encouragement to her attentive audience.

Through the generous support of those present, the Atlanta cathedral Philoptochos raised $11,500 for the National Philoptochos Aid to Greece and Cyprus Fund. Vickie Scaljon and Elaine F. Carlos led the effort. This is just one example of ongoing fundraising efforts being sponsored by chapters across the country. Under the chairmanship of Aphrodite Skeadas, National Philoptochos has just launched its Heart–to–Heart Campaign. This year, all chapters are encouraged to sponsor local events to commemorate Greek Independence Day on March 25 and Oxi Day on October 28. Events can range from luncheons with speakers on Hellenic Culture, to cultural events, to a simple community coffee hour. It is most important for each chapter to choose a project that will work in their community. To support the National Philoptochos Aid to Greece and Cyprus Fund, log on to http://bit.ly/1MpMsF3 to make your donation.