Young Adults Partner with IOCC to Aid Tsunami Victims

Baltimore, MD (January 12, 2005) — A national group of Orthodox Christians is responding to the South Asia tsunami by assembling health kits for the victims in coordination with International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC).

The Young Adult League, a ministry of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, has set a goal for its members to assemble 5,000 health kits to aid victims of the disaster. The “Gift of the Heart” health kits will bolster the efforts of IOCC to deliver life-saving relief supplies to areas hardest hit by the tsunami.

A humanitarian aid agency of Orthodox Christians, IOCC is participating in ongoing Church World Service airlifts of humanitarian supplies to South Asia. The shipments contain medical supplies; shelter and sanitation kits; blankets and emergency foodstuffs; and other critical supplies.

“We will continue to support these very concrete airlift efforts in the coming weeks,” said IOCC Executive Director Constantine M. Triantafilou, “along with Orthodox church-based efforts in the United States — such as assembling and sending thousands of ‘Gift of the Heart’ health and school kits.”

Health kits assembled by the Young Adult League will be collected at a warehouse facility in New Windsor, Md., and delivered through ongoing humanitarian airlifts to the tsunami-affected countries.

“We are grateful for the outpouring of support from Orthodox Christians across the country,” Triantafilou said, “including this generous commitment by Orthodox young people.”

Young adult chapters throughout the U.S. will be assembling and collecting the health kits at various functions, social gatherings and parish events through Valentine’s Day, Monday, Feb. 14. The “Gift of the Heart” kits include basic materials such as soap, toothpaste, Band-Aids and washcloths.

“The packages may be small, but they’ll make a huge difference,” said the Rev. Fr. Mark A. Leondis, national director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. “Just knowing that so many neighbors from across the globe are extending their hands has to provide hope and comfort to the victims.”

Fr. Leondis added that service and witness are two of the pillars on which the young adult ministry bases its activities.

“The national young adult service project is especially appropriate this year because His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios has proclaimed 2005 as the ‘Year of the Family’ throughout the Archdiocese,” Fr. Leondis said. “This is a perfect example of how our Church family can and must reach out to others in the name of Christ, especially during challenging times like these.”