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Greek Orthodox churches in Sydney deliver hampers and toys to those in need this Christmas




With just two weeks until Christmas Day, Greek Orthodox churches across Greater Sydney have started getting into the festive spirit by organising hamper and toy drives for people in need.

Christmas toys for the Sydney Children’s Hospital:

Volunteers from the Saint Catherine Greek Orthodox Church in Mascot have worked hard over the last few weeks gathering Christmas toys for the Sydney Children’s Hospital in Randwick.

Two of these volunteers, Eirini and Sebastian, visited Big W at Eastgardens to purchase a variety of children’s toys for the initiative, such as fluffy elephants, LEGO, tennis balls and among many other things guaranteed to bring joy to a child’s life.

Eirini and Sebastian, visited Big W at Eastgardens to purchase children’s toys.

According to a Facebook post, the purchase of the toys was made possible with the help of “wonderful donors from our parish, especially the family of Aris Koutsougeras who donated a substantial amount.”

Once bought, the toys were delivered by Eirini and Sebastian, as well as Father Athanasios Giatsios, to the children’s hospital. Although the group weren’t able to hand out the toys individually this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, they still brought smiles to the faces of the children and their families.

The toys were delivered to the Sydney Children’s Hospital in Randwick.

Elsewhere, the church was also holding its annual Christmas Food Collection to help other vulnerable people in the community as well.

Hundreds of non-perishable items were donated and these were then packaged by a number of young volunteers from SOFIA UNSW, Sydney University Greek Society (SUGS), the Hellenic Society of the University of NSW (Hellsoc UNSW) and the St Catherine’s Youth Fellowship.

The packages were then delivered to six charities in the local community including: Pantry4ThePeople, St Elesa Food Initiative, South East Neighbourhood Pantry, Street Buffet, Bayside Women’s Shelter and Ronald McDonald House in Randwick.

Mascot’s annual Christmas Food Collection.

Christmas hampers for refugee families:

This year, St Nectarios Parish and Community in Burwood are continuing their tradition of preparing 120 Christmas hampers for refugee families through Metro Assist.

The parish’s Youth In Action group held a virtual Trivia Night during lockdown which was attended by 100 people and raised over $4,000 for the hampers. Parishioners also donate groceries and gifts to be included in the Christmas hampers.

“This is a project that our youth are so passionate about and is one of their key community service activities for the year…” Christina Efthymiades, a Youth In Action mentor, tells The Greek Herald.

“Seeing the smiles of the refugee families we support and sending them some Christmas joy and our love is our blessing and a wonderful team building exercise for our youth.”

At the same time, the Parish is also holding its annual Christmas carols on Sunday, December 19 in the courtyard of the church. The event involves the singing of Christmas carols, a visit from Santa Claus and gifts are presented to children, chanters, caretakers and key volunteers.

St Nectarios Burwood’s Christmas carols last year. Photo: Facebook.

“Our annual Christmas Carols is one of the highlights of our year and we are so happy this event can proceed this year. It is a beautiful gathering of our community and we eagerly await the smiling faces of our children as they receive their gifts from Santa,” Penelopy Kioussis, President of the Board, says.

2021 Christmas Hamper Appeal:

GO Family and Friends Ministry, together with Mother Maria of Paris Mission, the St Elesa Food Initiative, Feed the People and Ark of Love, have launched their 2021 Christmas Hamper Appeal.

As part of the appeal, the Greek Orthodox organisations are calling on people across Greater Sydney to fill a box with non-perishable items such as canned food, bottled water, cake mix and pasta. To get into the Christmas spirit, treats such as pudding and chocolates, as well as Christmas decorations, are also welcome.

These boxes can then be dropped off on either Saturday, December 11 between 9am and 11am or Sunday, December 12 between 8am and 11am, at the Greek Orthodox churches in Bankstown, Belmore, Parramatta, Blacktown, Thornleigh, Kogarah, Liverpool, Gymea, Crows Nest and Surry Hills.

In the meantime, the Mother Maria of Paris Mission is also holding its annual Toy Drive and will be collecting donations up until December 15 at All Saints Greek Orthodox Church in Belmore.

Mother Maria of Paris Mission have teamed up with the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs.

This year, the Mission has partnered with local rugby league team, the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs, who have already donated $5000 worth of toys to the initiative.

Team players will also help members from the mission distribute the toys to children in hospital as well as the Riverwood Community Centre.

“It’s really all about bringing some joy and cheer to families and children that have been without it for a while,” program co-ordinator, Chris Constanti, tells The Greek Herald.

*Note: This is not an extensive list of all church initiatives available across Greater Sydney.

The Mission’s toy drive.

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