Articles on Orthodox Christian Charity


"Flip Flops For Haiti" Project Delivers Thousands of Shoes

Josephine Katzbach ("Josie"), a parishioner at St. Matthew Orthodox Church in North Royalton, Ohio, has returned from Haiti, where she successfully delivered 2200 flip flops for those in need.  

An experience in Haiti was the source for Josie’s idea. Months ago while she worked there in a clinic building project, several aid workers had to escort an ill woman from a clinic in town back up the mountain. Struck by her lack of material possessions, Josie literally gave the woman the clothes off her back, with the exception of her flip-flops, the only shoes that would fit Josie's swollen feet. So when she and her friend returned to Chicago, inspiration struck and Josie said, “Hey, I have an idea. Let’s do ‘flip-flops for Haiti.’”

Josie is no stranger to helping others. She takes food and water to the homeless in Cleveland twice a month with parishioners from St. Matthew’s or St. George of Cleveland. A “life-changing experience”– that’s how Josie describes her first trip to Haiti. Although the city’s poverty and devastation are great, the poverty is even more extreme in the mountains. “They are the poorest of the poor,” says Katzbach. The earthquake did not have as much of an effect on them; instead, poverty is a way of life.

On October 26, 2010, St. Matthew's held a fund raiser: "Flip Flops For Haiti All You Can Eat Italian Dinner." All proceeds went to benefit shipping and the distribution of flip flops. Josie's husband Mark and her sister Antonette chaired the affair, and the people of St. Matthew came forward and ate and gave, enabling Josephine to return to Haiti with several thousand shoes. Josie was able to distribute several hundred, while a Catholic priest and nun offered to deliver the remaining shoes to those in need.

Charity Wine Tasting at St. Anthony Church + Bergenfeld, NJ

St. Anthony Orthodox Church in Bergenfeld, New Jersey is hosting its second annual wine-tasting on Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 7:30PM. Stew Leonard's Wines of Paramus will provide a variety of wine and beer perfect for the holiday season.  Appetizers and desserts for the holidays will be paired with Stew Leonard's selections.  The charity event is open to the public, and will be held in the church's fellowship hall at 385 Ivy Lane in Bergenfield, NJ. Tickets are $25.00 for tasters and $20.00 for designated drivers and Seniors over 65 years old, or $30.00/$25.00 if ordered after November 13 and at the door.

The evening will begin with the celebration of the Blessing of the Five Loaves or Artoclasia, an ancient prayer and sharing of  a traditional and delicious sweet bread, olive oil and wine.

Proceeds will benefit the philanthropic work of the parish and the IOCC (International Orthodox Christian Charities).

The IOCC is the humanitarian aid agency of American Orthodox Christians.  Established in 1992, it administers aid according to principles of Orthodox compassion and justice. It continues to work in Mississippi and Louisiana, building homes for people affected by Hurricane Katrina with Habitat for Humanity.  It is mobilizing aid for Asia Pacific peoples suffering from typhoon and earthquake disasters. It is helping Uganda’s orphans recover from civil war and has been a key player in the aid of Haitian earthquake victims.

Tickets are available at Stew Leonard's Wines, 396 Route 17 North, Paramus, NJ  07653, (201) 649-0882 or by calling St. Anthony's at (201) 568-8840 & Press 7. You can also visit www.StAnthonysorthodox.org.

IOCC Responds to Tremor in Central Serbia

November 8, 2010

Baltimore, MD (IOCC) International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is working with Philanthropy, the charitable fund of the Serbian Orthodox Church, and local organizations to assess the needs following a moderate 5.3 earthquake that struck central Serbia on November 3 claiming at least two lives and injuring more than fifty people.

The temblor was centered near the city of Kraljevo where it destroyed or damaged buildings and left parts of the city without utility services, according to Interior Ministry of Serbia. The area is 30 miles from institutions where IOCC is implementing projects to assist disabled children and adults. There have been no reports of damage to the facilities, although the residents were shaken by the tremor.

"As we know from the earthquake in Haiti earlier this year, beyond the damage to buildings, loss of life and the immediate physical needs, the psychological effects of the earthquake can be deeply felt," observed Constantine M. Triantafilou, IOCC executive director. "We pray for the families who have been directly impacted by the quake and those who have been traumatized by this disaster."

IOCC and Philanthropy are long-time partners in Serbia and will coordinate their response to the affected areas. The agencies anticipate providing emergency assistance through the provision of food items and are assessing the need for construction materials to repair damaged homes as colder winter weather sets in.

IOCC and Philanthropy are members of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy.

IOCC Project Extends Assistance To Iraqi Refugees In Syria

A refugee child in Syria learns to write through a program run by IOCC and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch.A refugee child in Syria learns to write through a program run by IOCC and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch.October 30, 2010

Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — The U.S. State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) signed an agreement with International Orthodox Chrisitan Charities (IOCC) to extend assistance to Iraqi refugees living in Syria. The $4.5 million award from PRM, implemented with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, will provide food assistance, educational support and vocational training for Iraqi refugees and Syrians in communities hosting large numbers of refugees.

IOCC Regional Director, George Antoun, anticipates that the project will provide direct assistance to more than 56,000 people over the next two years.

"The future for many Iraqi refugees remains uncertain," explained Antoun. "Although conditions in Iraq have improved, the situation remains fluid and many refugees are reluctant to return in the absence of stability and security as well as access to clean water, sanitation, electricity and other basic necessities. Others fear for their lives and the lives of their children who cannot safely walk to school."

The program will assist vulnerable Iraqi refugees and underserved Syrians residing in and around Damascus, as well as in Aleppo and Jazirat.

Many Syrians have suffered under the economic burden of inflation which followed the massive influx of Iraqi refugees beginning in 2003. IOCC's program seeks to alleviate part of the hardship by providing vulnerable families with assistance similar to that being offered to the refugees.

FOCUS North America Awards Grants to Project Mexico and Others

Boys at Project MexicoBoys at Project MexicoFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 26, 2010 – Kansas City, MO

In addition to serving the poor by establishing operational ministries and supplying parishes with needed resources for ministry a key part of the missions of FOCUS North America is to support existing Orthodox ministries facilitating or working directly with those most in need. This year FOCUS North America through the generosity of the Orthodox Vision Foundation, made grants to several ministries. The largest was awarded to Project Mexico which received $15,000 for its tremendous work. FOCUS North America gave away a total of $45,000 in grants to new and existing FOCUS Partner Ministries. (Go online for a complete list of FOCUS Partners.)

Mr. Geoff Bray, Executive Director of Project Mexico said, “Project Mexico and FOCUS North America are two Orthodox ministries engaged in service to the poor. The beauty of the cooperation between the two is that Americans or Canadians can come to Project Mexico, become inspired through their experience to continue to do God’s work, and then work with FOCUS North America in their home countries to channel that ongoing desire to serve. The connection between short term foreign missions even overseas and domestic ministry with the poor in the Orthodox Church has never been stronger! We thank FOCUS North America for their support of Project Mexico and St. Innocent Orphanage.”

IOCC Receives Significant Grant to Bolster Romanian Projects

Photo courtesy of IOCCPhoto courtesy of IOCCBaltimore, MD (IOCC) — IOCC's efforts to partner with the Romanian Orthodox Church and local community-based organizations to provide vital social services received a boost recently when it was awarded a grant of more than $1.8 million to help strengthen the work of community-based organizations in Romania.

"Ten years ago, IOCC opened an office in Bucharest with the vision of working side-by-side with the Romanian Orthodox Church to serve people in need," reflected Constantine M. Triantafilou, IOCC Executive Director. "We are gratified to have this opportunity to take one more step toward that goal of a vibrant network for diakonia in partnership with Filantropia."

The project will assist Filantropia, a national network of community-based organizations under the auspices of the Romanian Orthodox Church, to improve the social services it provides to orphans, the elderly, families living in poverty, prisoners, the terminally ill and others in need in Romania. The training and organizational development that will be provided through the project will enable Filantropia to become a strategic partner in improving social services at the local, regional and national levels.

The new program has been made possible through the Romanian Ministry of Labor, Family and Equal Opportunity and co-financed by the European Social Fund through the Sectorial Operational Program for Human Resources Development 2007-2013.

Children's Relief Fund Launches Informative Website

The Children's Relief Fund, a ministry of the Antiochian Archdiocese, has launched a website enabling online donations via PayPal, and allowing potential sponsors to apply directly for sponsorship online. Since 1983, the Fund has served as a non-profit charitable and humanitarian organization dedicated to providing education scholarships to needy children in Lebanon and Palestine. Fr. George M. Rados, National Director, reports that currently CRF is sponsoring 341 children in Lebanon and 34 in Palestine. A helpful FAQ section of the website explains all aspects of sponsorship, including how to communicate with the child, and how the funds from sponsors are distributed.

Heartwarming testimonials on the new site tell the Fund's story:

“We thank God that there are people like you who believe in helping others. God bless you.”

“I highly appreciate your financial aid to my daughter. In fact, without your financial support to my daughter, my daughter will not be able to proceed with her studies.”

“Your sponsorship and donation of $300 made me work harder to achieve my goals. Thank you.”

“I would like to thank you wholeheartedly for the schooling of my son. Your help gives us hope that someone like you is feeling for you. So my family and I pray for your well being, may God bless you.”

IOCC Food and Medical Assistance Reach Pakistan

IOCC Aid Reaches Pakistan: IOCC is providing medicines to treat people in Pakistan who have been affected by the massive flooding that has contaminated water supplies, displaced people from their homes and destroyed vast areas of the country. (photo: Abdul Majeed Goraya/IRIN)IOCC Aid Reaches Pakistan: IOCC is providing medicines to treat people in Pakistan who have been affected by the massive flooding that has contaminated water supplies, displaced people from their homes and destroyed vast areas of the country. (photo: Abdul Majeed Goraya/IRIN)September 16, 2010

Baltimore, MD (IOCC) International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) has expanded its distribution of emergency supplies to flood-ravaged areas of Pakistan. While water is receding in many areas of the country, the devastation caused to homes, infrastructure and farm land has left many people without adequate access to clean water, food and medical assistance. Aid provided by IOCC has focused on the medical needs, especially the threat of water-borne diseases, and immediate provision of food supplies through the Orthodox Mission in Pakistan.

In partnership with Medical Teams International, IOCC is providing two cholera kits to areas in the north of Pakistan. The kits will provide medical camps established in four of the hardest hit regions of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region. Each cholera kit contains basic pharmaceuticals and supplies to treat up to 700 severe and moderate cases of cholera, including those affected by dysentery. The shipment, valued at $265,000, has been made possible through support from the Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society.

"It was with great sadness that we learned of the loss of life and devastating destruction in Pakistan," remarked National Philoptochos President Aphrodite Skeadas, "and this contribution, through IOCC, demonstrates the generosity and will of our chapters throughout the country to assist the flood victims there."

Order of St. Ignatius Releases Statement of Budgeted Project Contributions for 2011 and 2012

The Order has published their Statement of Budgeted Project Contributions, for the fiscal years ending January 31, 2011 and 2012. The document is available as a PDF file at Projects Supported by the Order. The Statement from the Order budgets for total project contributions of $1,419,000 in 2011 and $1,233,000 in 2012.

IOCC Aid Reaches Russians Affected by Fires

August 25, 2010

Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) began providing emergency supplies this week to people affected by fires in the Ryazan region of Central Russia. The response was made possible through a $5,000 gift from the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) and a $25,000 matching grant from the John G. Rangos Sr. Family Charitable Foundation.

Aid to the region southeast of Moscow will reach 640 people and includes personal hygiene kits, blankets, towels and bed linens. The relief is being provided in cooperation with the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Round Table, an ecumenical forum for social service in Russia.

The grant from the John G. Rangos Sr. Family Charitable Foundation will support IOCC's aid projects in Russia by creating a matching gift program. The Foundation will match every dollar contributed to IOCC for relief projects in Russia up to $25,000. Rangos, a founder of IOCC, was instrumental in one of IOCC's first humanitarian missions – an airlift of relief supplies and medicines to Russia in 1992.

In addition to the gift from the Orthodox Church in America, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah called upon parishes to provide support for the relief efforts. "I am also asking that members of the Orthodox Church in America offer financial assistance through IOCC, which will convey our donations to the appropriate Church partners and Church programs in Russia."

"We are grateful for the generous response of the Orthodox Church in America and John Rangos in response to the current urgent needs in Russia," said Constantine M. Triantafilou, IOCC Executive Director. "Their steadfast support for our work with the Russian Orthodox Church since the earliest days of IOCC continues to make a difference for those who are suffering."