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The Smile Project: Greek Australian youth send Christmas cards to the elderly in nursing homes

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It’s 15 days until Christmas and young Greek Australians across NSW have come together to bring some Christmas cheer to the elderly in nursing homes.

They’re all taking part in ‘The Smile Project.’

The project is an initiative launched by the Central Youth Committee of NSW (CYC NSW), which is under the auspices of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, and many youth fellowships in the state are participating.

These fellowships are: FOCUS UNSW in collaboration with All Saints Belmore Youth Community, St Nectarios Burwood’s Youth in Action, St George Fellowship for Young Adults Rose Bay, and the St Stylianos Young Adult Fellowship in partnership with The Orthodox Cafe.

The Christmas cards are being sent to the nursing homes of St Basil’s, Estia Health and Bupa. Photo supplied.

The Greek Australian youth who make up these fellowships all have one singular aim – to make Christmas cards, inscribed with Greek and English messages, which are then sent to the nursing homes of St Basil’s, Estia Health and Bupa.

Some cards, from the youth fellowship at St Nectarios for example, are also being distributed to the church’s weekly seniors’ group.

“It’s been a trying year for all of us and especially the elderly who might be feeling lonely and vulnerable as a result of the coronavirus pandemic,” Nicole Economos, Youth Leader from St Nectarios Youth In Action, tells The Greek Herald exclusively.

“So ‘The Smile Project’ is the perfect way to spread some Christmas cheer and put a smile on the faces of elderly.

“A lot of the people who come to our youth fellowships are second to fourth generation Greeks and the project gives them an opportunity to give back to people who built up the Greek community and culture in Australia.”

And that’s exactly what they’ve done.

So far, each fellowship has created about 50 Christmas cards, with all of them having a different message or drawing. Some say ‘Merry Christmas,’ while others have been decorated with Santa Claus or Christmas tree stickers. Almost all of them use the traditional Christmas colours of green, red and white.

“There was a great atmosphere, with everyone getting into the Christmas spirit by listening to Christmas carols, baking and eating melomakarona, and writing heartfelt Christmas cards,” Maria Christou, from the St George Fellowship, says.

President of FOCUS UNSW, Georgia Georgiou, also agrees and says making the Christmas cards was really exciting for everyone.

“Everyone really enjoyed making the Christmas cards! We were all sitting there getting creative with our textas and pens and everyone had a smile on their face,” Georgia tells The Greek Herald.

“It just felt really good to be contributing in some way, while also making sure we brighten the day of the elderly.”

A clear sign that ‘The Smile Project’ works both ways. Both the youth and the elderly end up having a little bit of extra Christmas cheer in their lives!

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