Articles on Orthodox Christian Charity


FOCUS Partners with Men's Wearhouse in National Suit Drive

The Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS) has partnered with The Men's Wearhouse during the clothing chain's fourth annual National Suit Drive. The Drive collects gently used business attire to help disadvantaged job seekers in need of a wardrobe upgrade, and the theme this year is, "help others find their strong suit."

Items collected in the drive include both men and women’s suits, shirts, jackets, ties, belts, and shoes.

FOCUS ReEngage Director Rodney Knott, who leads a twelve week course for men, said. “Working with the men who participate in our Man Class has helped me understand the struggles they encounter as they try to reestablish their lives in this slow economy. The great thing about this opportunity is that it shows these men that there are people who still believe in them and are willing to give them a hand up when they are down.”

Knott says the suits will help the men in his classes "...with a fresh start and the ability to go into an interview feeling confident and well equipped to put into practice their new skills."

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IOCC Works To Curb Spread Of Disease Among Famine Refugees In Ethiopia

Eighty year old Ethiopian woman cradles her grandson (photo: IRIN/George Mulala)Eighty year old Ethiopian woman cradles her grandson (photo: IRIN/George Mulala)Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — As more than 120,000 people fleeing famine in Somalia crowd into the Dollo Ado refugee camps in Ethiopia, the lack of adequate sanitation is creating a breeding ground for measles, cholera, and other diseases. International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) in cooperation with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Development and Inter Church Aid Commission (EOC-DICAC) is taking action to improve sanitation conditions and help avert the spread of disease among the refugees.

Working with local healthcare agencies, IOCC is providing the materials needed to build some 50 latrines in the refugee camps and is on site overseeing this vital preventive health activity. IOCC Ethiopia Country Representative, Sigurd Hanson, says that the current camp conditions are ripe for an epidemic. "The high number of malnourished children due to the ongoing famine makes them more vulnerable to contagious diseases like measles and cholera," says Hanson. "Add to that overcrowded settlements with poor sanitation and limited access to safe water. Basic sanitation facilities can make a world of difference in protecting these already fragile lives."

New IOCC Program To Improve Food Access For Isolated Families In The Gaza Strip

Bilal, 7-year old Gaza boy (photo: Paul Jeffrey / ACT Alliance)Bilal, 7-year old Gaza boy (photo: Paul Jeffrey / ACT Alliance)August 8, 2011

Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — More than 10,000 children and their parents in the Gaza Strip will soon have better access to reliable food sources through a new program launched by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). IOCC was awarded $3.75 million to assist 1,400 selected households start and maintain family gardens, or to raise fish or small livestock such as chickens and rabbits. The award was made by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through Mercy Corps as part of a larger initiative in the Gaza Strip.

Sam Dunlap, country representative for IOCC Jerusalem, says these activities build on IOCC's current activities in the Gaza Strip, in which IOCC is rehabilitating greenhouses, digging water catchments and providing water irrigation systems. "Ideally, this chain of activities will produce a surplus of food for the families' needs, and ultimately develop into extra sources of income that will allow them to flourish."

IOCC Helping Hungry Families in the Horn of Africa

(photo: ACT/DCA/Binyan)(photo: ACT/DCA/Binyan)from International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC):

August 5, 2011

In the Horn of Africa, the situation is getting worse each day for families who are suffering through the region's worst drought in 60 years. In Somalia, the United Nations has declared a famine – the first time it has made such a declaration in nearly 30 years. Tens of thousands have already died and many more are at risk.

IOCC staff are on the ground in Ethiopia to assist families in immediate need of food assistance and are working to expand critical relief efforts to address the food crisis. Working with Orthodox Christian and ecumenical partners, IOCC is addressing the needs of people in remote areas of Southern Ethiopia, including Somali refugees who are arriving daily.

We need your help to provide life-saving support for these families.

Please keep the people in the Horn of Africa in your prayers and respond by clicking here to make a donation to help the victims of disasters around the world, like those in Horn of Africa, by making a financial gift to the IOCC International Emergency Response Fund. Or, call toll free at 1-877-803-IOCC (4622), or mail a check or money order payable to IOCC, P.O. Box 630225, Baltimore, Md. 21263-0225 and designate International Emergency Response Fund.

FOCUS Summer Outreach Includes Teen Volunteers

Niko Touloumes was planning on using some of his summer break to do a service project, but he never thought the project would change his perspective on those in need.

Touloumes was one of 18 youth from Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Christian Church in Pittsburgh who participated in the June Appalachia service trip, a ministry of FOCUS North America. The group of middle school and high school students were joined by six adult leaders.

The goal of these short term ministry trips is to build a sense of service and community by providing an opportunity for church groups to travel together, work together, serve together and grow together. Projects include home repair, landscaping, and various domestic projects for the poor living in the heart of the Appalachian region. In some parts of the Appalachian region of NC where the FOCUS NA teams serve there is an almost 20% unemployment rate.

“I was expecting to come down and help people, not necessarily interact with them,” Touloumes said. “But I came here and found out why they’re in these situations.”

The teens and their adult leaders worked hard and always had a great attitude as they worked on graveling a driveway, painting a garage, removing a rotting deck, painting the interior of a house, moving heavy furniture and various landscaping projects.

The working poor families served by these groups are always very grateful for the help, Niko Petrogeorge, FOCUS North America ministry team intern, said.

“We painted the inside of an elderly couple’s home,” Petrogeorge said. “Mr. Upright was very appreciative of our work and wanted to help us." We got him started on something he wouldn’t have been able to do on his own and provided the resources and materials for the project.”

IOCC Responding to Severe African Drought

Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — As more than ten million men, women and children face hunger and life-threatening health consequences from the worst drought to hit the Horn of Africa in 60 years, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is responding with aid to relieve victims of the worst food shortage crisis in the world today. Working in cooperation with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Development and Inter Church Aid Commission (EOC-DICAC) and partner agency International Medical Corps (IMC), IOCC is delivering financial support to help alleviate the emergency needs of Somali refugees in southern camps of Ethiopia.

The initial IOCC relief will support healthcare responders assessing the immediate and basic health, nutrition, sanitation, and hygiene needs of the refugees, and support their efforts to provide emergency assistance such as distribution of food and water, therapeutic feeding programs for the severely malnourished, construction of latrines, and coordination of other hygiene activities to prevent spread of disease in such overcrowded conditions.

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2010 OCMC Annual Report Available Online

Dear Faithful Supporters and Friends of international Orthodox missions,

Greetings in Christ on this blessed Feast Day of the Twelve Apostles! We are pleased to announce that the 2010 OCMC Annual Report is now available online here.

We invite you to review this report so that you can know how your time, prayer and support has helped share the message of love, hope, and salvation with people around the world. Please prayerfully consider renewing your support for the ministries of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center, so that we might continue to participate in the work begun by the Holy Apostles of making disciples of all nations.

Please know that you are in our prayers. On behalf of the OCMC staff, board, missionaries, and volunteers, we thank you for your continued prayers as well.

In Christ,

The Orthodox Christian Mission Center

IOCC Emergency Response Team Weathers Challenging Spring

IOCC frontliner Dn. Dan Gray with volunteers in AlabamaIOCC frontliner Dn. Dan Gray with volunteers in AlabamaBy Constantine M. Triantafilou, Executive Director and CEO of IOCC

What would you do if you only had a few minutes warning before disaster struck? Gather your family? Grab your valuables? Or just find a safe place to take shelter? Those were the split second, life changing decisions that faced the tornado victims in Joplin, Missouri, Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Springfield, Massachusetts. The Spring of 2011 will go down in US history as one of the most devastating tornado seasons ever, and a sobering reminder that we must be ever vigilant and ever prepared.

International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) has trained 60 Orthodox clergy and lay persons in the U.S. in disaster preparedness and emergency management. They now form the backbone of the Emergency Response Network and have the concrete skills needed to deal with communities and parishioners in times of crisis, such as the 2011 tornadoes that have killed more than 500 people and left thousands more homeless.

Al-Kafaat: Giving People with Special Needs the Ability to Live

SaraSaraby Andrew Dalack

“Meen hayda?” Sara asked her educator, her finger pointed at me. Sara was sitting in the shade, shielding herself from the morning sun’s rays that were beating down on the courtyard of Al-Kafaat’s Lily Shwayri Center. “Ask him (Iss’alee),” the educator told Sara with a smile.”

Sara turned her head towards me and smiled. She was just playing games. Her sense of humor, however, was far more sophisticated than that of any other 11-year-old I had ever met. “Shou ismak (what’s your name)?” Sara asked me, her eyes slightly peaking over her glasses. “Andrew,” I replied, failing to hold back the smile that had now taken over my face. “Wa shou ismeek intee, mad moiselle?” I had hardly been in Lebanon for a month and the Lebanese were already rubbing off on me. “Sara,” she answered coyly.

I was delighted to meet Sara – but after I learned more about her story, my naïve delight was turned into genuine humility.

Sara came to Al-Kafaat in 2004 at the age of three. She has developmental issues that are sometimes exacerbated by severe epilepsy. She also has a weak visual field, as she also suffers from cataracts. As a result, her communication abilities were limited; before coming to Al-Kafaat, Sara could only answer questions with a simple “yes” or “no”.

But at Al-Kafaat foundation, a team of specialists – speech therapists and physiotherapists – assumed responsibility for Sara’s development. Over a short period of time, her situation improved dramatically, and her communication skills transcended the barriers created by her vision and developmental impairments.

IOCC Responds To Joplin And Heartland Tornadoes With Emergency Cleanup And Early Recovery

(photo: George Armstrong/FEMA)(photo: George Armstrong/FEMA)May 27, 2011

Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — From Joplin, Missouri to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, International Orthodox Christian Charities, IOCC, is working to deliver relief items such as clean up buckets and blankets to victims of one of the deadliest tornado seasons to strike the U.S. heartland in half a century.

Joplin, Missouri was the hardest hit, with at least 125 people killed and hundreds more still unaccounted for after the deadliest single twister ever recorded leveled a six mile swath of the town last Sunday night. IOCC and partner agency, Church World Service, are working closely with local churches from the affected area to identify and meet immediate needs such as food and shelter, and services like laundry and property clean up.