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Protocol No. 230/16
 
November 24, 2016
Thanksgiving Day
 
 
To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America
 
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
 
The Thanksgiving holiday is a joyous day of celebrating the blessings of life.  Traditions connected to faith, family, and community have developed in this country, affirming the importance of offering thanks to God for these blessings and recognizing the many ways we are blessed by Him.
 
We are blessed through God’s compassion and care for all that He has created.  Our Lord asked, Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:26)  He knows our needs, even those we think are small and insignificant.  Because God’s love and provision are always with us, because He created us and sustains us by His grace, we give thanks.
 
We are blessed abundantly by this wondrous power of His grace.  It is a power that heals, redeems, protects, and saves.  The Apostle Paul proclaimed this power by stating, For by grace you have been saved through faith; and it is not of your own doing, it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)  We accept this gift by faith and with thanksgiving.  We offer thanks to God in communion with Him through the Holy Eucharist, a communal act filled with grace.  Because God loves us and by His grace seeks to restore us to eternal fellowship with Him, we give thanks.
 
We are blessed because in Him we have life, and we have it abundantly. (John 10:10)  He created us in His image and has given us the breath of life.  Through Christ we see life as it should be lived.  We see the path to meaningful life.  In Him life has purpose and direction, and our lives begin a journey of faith that leads us from abundant to eternal life.  We give thanks for the blessing of life.
 
We are blessed with the anticipation of salvation and glory to come. (Revelation 19:1)   We are thankful to God that so many before us have endured for our sake so that in the words of the Apostle Paul we may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus with its eternal glory. (II Timothy 2:10)   Because we have hope in deliverance, joy in the light of the Resurrection, and assurance in God’s promises, we give thanks.
 
As you observe Thanksgiving Day, may all of these blessings be on your hearts and minds.  May this be a day of giving thanks to God for His grace, and may His abundant blessings be on each of you and your families.  Through your thanksgiving and your joy in His blessings may you offer a witness to the world of the life and love we have in Him.  Have a blessed Thanksgiving Day.
 
With paternal love in Christ,
 
†DEMETRIOS
Archbishop of America
 
A Thanksgiving Greeting from
National Philoptochos President, Maria Logus
 
Once again, it is time to joyfully celebrate Thanksgiving, a holiday we have come to think of as uniquely American. In fact, celebrations of thanks are observed throughout the world - from our nearby neighbors in Canada, to Germany and many other countries across the globe. And, while those celebrations reflect the cultural values of each nation, the common theme is one of thankfulness and gratitude - for the bounty given to us, for the blessings bestowed on us, for the loving grace of our Father.
 
This year, as families join together to partake of turkey, pumpkin pie and football, we should first take time to offer thanks and glory to God. Offer thanks for our great country. Offer thanks for the love and warm embrace of your families and friends.  And please, offer thanks to God for the precious gift of life given to you.
 
For the faithful stewards of Philoptochos, Thanksgiving offers an opportunity to give thanks by recommitting ourselves to the service of others. In particular this year, we invite Philoptochos chapters and stewards to pledge themselves to offering wholesome and hearty meals to the homeless and hungry in our communities. Our goal, challenging but certainly achievable, is to offer one million meals before our next convention in 2018 and to experience both the joy and the rewards of this service, over and over again.
 
By offering assistance, our love and our support to those in need, to those facing life’s challenges, to the hungry and destitute, to the sick and infirm, to all those in need - we tangibly demonstrate our thanks to God for His love. This is the true gift of thanksgiving, a gift we should celebrate every day of the year.
Twenty-Five Years of Visionary Leadership
 Anita Kartalopoulos, Chair, Ecumenical Patriarchate Committee
November 2, 2016 marked the 25th anniversary of the Enthronement of His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew.
 
The Orthodox Church has been blessed and guided, for the past 25 years, by a Patriarch of exceptional courage, grace and humility.  Patriarch Bartholomew has tirelessly embraced a message and ministry of reconciliation, love and dignity.  Despite unique obstacles and challenges, he advances the message of Christ and Orthodoxy undaunted. As Orthodox Christians and as members of the National Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society, we are thankful and proud that our Lord has blessed us with His All Holiness as our Ecumenical Patriarch.

Born on the tiny island of Imvros, on the same street where Archbishop Iakovos, of blessed memory, was born, Patriarch Bartholomew’s humble beginnings became the fertile soil that nurtured this priest and hierarch whom Pope Francis refers to as “my friend and brother” and who further states “I consider it to be both a grace and a privilege to walk together with Patriarch Bartholomew in the hope of serving our one Lord Jesus Christ.”

A visionary theologian who recently convened and presided over the first Great (Pan-Orthodox) Council of Orthodox Christianity in over 1200 years, he works tirelessly for the internal unity of the church while he also builds bridges with other churches for the resolution of social issues, global peace, freedom of religion, the environment and the plight of refugees and oppressed minorities.  We were all so proud to see him and Pope Francis comforting refugees on the island of Mytilene this past summer.  This Patriarch is a man of strength and humility who enjoys the love and respect of leaders and friends the world over, including Vice President Joseph Biden, Jane Goodall, Pope Emeritus Benedict, the countless governmental leaders who have journeyed to the Phanar to seek his counsel and so many more. It is not accidental that leaders worldwide have sought his counsel at international meetings and conferences such as the World Economic Summits at Davos, and so many more.  How amazing to see our Church represented in such a setting that often embraces the secular and shuns the spiritual!
A new, authoritative and extensive biography of His All Holiness has been written and just released.  Bartholomew: Apostle and Visionary, authored by Archdeacon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, John Chryssavgis, who had unfettered access to Church files, the Patriarch’s personal notes and to His All Holiness himself, presents a clear and beautiful picture of a man wholly dedicated to God,  His  Church and to us, his flock.
 
In this silver anniversary year of His All Holiness’ ministry as our Ecumenical Patriarch, let us, as a National Philoptochos, resolve to become better acquainted with this great leader whom the world holds in highest respect.  I encourage you all to read Fr. John’s elegant and beautiful book, published by Harper Collins.  I also ask you to redouble your efforts on behalf of our Ecumenical Patriarchate not only through your generous contributions during the month of November, but throughout the year.  His All Holiness is our leader and our faithful supplicant before God every day.  Let us all be there for him and our Holy Patriarchate every day as well as we wish him many and blessed years for the glorious continuation of his apostolic witness and mission.
Εις Πολλα Ετη Δεσποτα!
Make A Difference Day 2016
Anita Kartalopoulos, National Chair
 
Recognizing that nationwide our Philoptochos is the “par excellence” doer of good deeds, we enthusiastically embraced the Make A Difference Day movement in 2015. There was no question that Philoptochos knew how to “make a difference” and that this is was project for us! Instituted by author Nick Katsoris, with whom Philoptochos has collaborated for years in the area of literacy, we joined other national organizations such as Kiwanis International, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, the Make A Wish Foundation and many other well-known charities that participate in Make A Difference Day.

This innovative movement is the nation’s largest day of volunteering where millions unite across the country to improve the lives of others.  Philoptochos proudly and successfully embraces this initiative!  Last year, in our inaugural year, local Philoptochos chapters nationwide joined with other local parish ministries and did over 4000 good deeds in this cross generational initiative.  Truly a success but Philoptochos can always do better!

The 2016 goal as set forth in a letter to chapters by national president Maria Logus and national chair Anita Kartalopoulos was to accomplish 8500 good deeds in celebration of Philoptochos’ 85th Anniversary and in honor of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios’ Nameday on October 26th.  I am proud to report to you that over 10,000 good deeds were accomplished by our beautiful Philoptochos chapters and members in collaboration with the Sunday Schools, Greek Schools, Scouts, PTOs and other ministries in our parishes nationwide. 

This year’s Philoptochos Make A Difference Day was truly a nationwide event, with chapters from Hawaii to Virginia and Maine to Florida and California participating!   We are very happy and proud to say that every Metropolis in the US participated in Make A Difference Day 2016!  As the saying goes, a picture says a thousand words.  Set forth below are descriptions and pictures from across the nation chronicling our Make A Difference Day efforts across the country.  Many, many more photos and stories of our good deeds are set forth on our Facebook page.  If you have not sent us photos and information about your chapter’s efforts, please do so! 

We are truly thankful for your nationwide support for this fine initiative that provides an opportunity for Philoptochos to work with our children in creating a Sea of Good Deeds and to demonstrate to our youth and our parishes what Philoptochos is truly about!  
        
Please enjoy some of the beautiful good deeds set forth below:
 
Making A Difference in Chicago, Illinois!
The girls at Saint Basil's Greek Orthodox Church in Chicago, were all smiles as they lovingly designed colorful greeting cards with inspirational messages for needy boys and girls around the world. The cards will accompany dresses and pants that are being hand made by the Philoptochos for the Dress A Girl initiative. They will surely brighten the day for many precious children. By the time the girls finished, they created more than 200 cards! This project filled their hearts with love, knowing they are truly making a difference in the lives of others.
Making A Difference in Cleveland, Ohio!
St. Constantine and Helen Philoptochos celebrated Make A Difference Day in October. The Sunday School created cards for our US Veterans. A class discussion took place about what the word “veteran” means and how to reach out and make a difference. The children heard the story of a fourth-grade class who once wrote to veterans. Sadly, one of the soldiers who received a student letter was killed. The parents of the soldier reached out to the student who wrote the letter to tell him how much the letter had meant to their son. The letter was found in the soldier’s back pocket. He had carried it with him everywhere. Students learned that you never know when a small gesture can make a big difference!
Making A Difference in Stockton, California!
The Philoptochos ladies of St. Basil in Stockton  participated In Make A Difference Day to honor the Nameday of Archbishop Demetrios. Activity backpacks were put together for the children of a local primary grade classroom. The backpacks were filled with coloring books, crayons, pencils, games and puzzles. The children were excited and grateful! It was an amazing experience!
Making A Difference in Hartford, Connecticut!
This year was the second annual Make A Difference Day which was held on Saturday, 10/22/16 at Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Hartford. A representative from the Connecticut Humane Society spoke to the St. George Greek School children who brought food and toys for shelter animals and monetary donations were made to the local Humane Society.
Making A Difference in Boca Raton, Florida!
In Boca Raton,  Philoptochos partnered with our Sunday School students to make hygiene kits for the homeless in recognition of Make A Difference Day. The students packaged over 100 kits with items donated by the women of Philoptochos. Thanks to Boca Raton’s kids and their teachers for reaching out to help those in our community who are less fortunate and thanks to the local Philoptochos for leading!
Making a Difference in Richmond, Virginia!
Sts. Constantine and Helen Philoptochos guided 3rd to 5th graders in making cards for veterans at the local VA hospital.  The focus on veterans was truly appreciated as they can often be a forgotten group.
Making A Difference in Boise, Idaho!
Philoptochos of Boise participated in Make A Difference Day with acts of kindness that involved families in need.   The Ronald McDonald house provides a home away from home to families of ill and injured children who are in local hospitals. The Ronald McDonald house had an October "wish list" of items needed which included food and pantry items.  The Boise Philoptochos stepped up and purchased and delivered these much needed items for the Ronald McDonald house.  "We greatly appreciate the generosity of the Philoptochos society from the Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church and thank them for their donation" stated Kelly Houston Staskey, Director of House Operations at the Boise Ronald McDonald house.
Making A Difference in Arlington, Massachusetts!
The St. Barbara's Philoptochos of St. Athanasius The Great in Arlington, participated in Make A Difference Day  and paired up with the Little Halos preschool in our parish to help teach the children about philanthropy and making a difference in the lives of others.  We provided the school with the book "Loukoumi's Good Deeds" to share with the children.

The children will then be making cards for the residents of the Hellenic Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and hand delivering them along with members of our Philoptochos in the near future.
Making A Difference in Buffalo, New York!
Annunciation Philoptochos in Buffalo  hosts a Soup Kitchen, which is sponsored by our Orthodox Action group. The group at Annunciation chose this project in honor of Mother Maria Skobtsova and her work with those who were poor, sick, and homeless in Paris in the 1930s and 40s. The Soup Kitchen serves on average 180 meals two Saturdays a month, as well as a large Thanksgiving Dinner, which last year brought in more than 300 guests.
 
After some discussion at the Philoptochos Board Meeting, they decided that it would be a nice gesture to collaborate with their GOYANS to bake cookies for our guests, to be served at the next lunch date. It was very convenient, since the meals are served right in the church facility, and some of the GOYANS also serve the guests, and help out at the Soup Kitchen.  What a great way to make a difference in the lives of those in need!
........
In conclusion, words cannot sufficiently express our thanks for the enthusiastic, nationwide participation that our chapters showed in this initiative.  The pictures shown here and on our Facebook and web pages are a testament to the good works of our Philoptochos.
Not only did we honor His Eminence on the occasion of his Nameday but we also honored our Philoptochos’ glorious 85th Anniversary by exceeding our goal of 8500 good deeds!  BRAVO to all our Philoptochos sisters!  Panta Axies!
Support Our Troops with the Phone Home Program 
Katherine Siavelis and Peggy M. Vranas, New Philanthropic Initiatives Co-Chairs
 
One of the greatest gifts you can give a service man or woman far from home is the ability to say, “I love you” to their spouse, child or parent.  Philoptochos chapters and members can help make this happen with prepaid phone cards delivered to deployed troops by the United Service Operation (USO).
 
The USO reports that prepaid phone cards to call home are among their most requested items. Phone Cards can be purchased in increments of $25 and a special message can be included with each card.  Johnson & Johnson will match all donations dollar-for-dollar up to $400,000 through December 31. To participate in this worthy program, you can make donations to the Phone Home project by mail or online.
 
By mail:
USO World Headquarters
PO Box 96860
Washington, DC 20077-7677
(Write Operation Phone Home, O.P.H. written in the check memo.)
 
Or online:
Go to uso.org
From top menu choose Gift Catalog
Scroll down to Phone Calls Home ($25)
Add to Cart
Complete the transaction as you normally do in online shopping
 
USO Phone #:  (800) 901-1501
 
Please let us know the number of phone cards purchased and the amount by sending an email to 4RTroops@philoptochos.org by December 31, so that we may share how many men and women were touched through your generosity. We will collect your information until the end of the year, but you may continue the program as long as you like.
 
The New Philanthropic Initiatives committee continually researches organizations that provide assistance to those in the service, veterans and their families here in the United States and abroad.  We encourage Philoptochos chapters to embrace one or more projects that support our US troops and vets. Please go to www.philoptochos.org/outreach/projects/veteranslinks for details on the phone-home project, as well as additional suggestions for helping our troops overseas and our veterans who have returned home.
Church Pantries to Feed the Hungry
From The Metropolitan Cathedral of St. John the Theologian, Englewood, New Jersey
 
The Philothea Philoptochos chapter of Tenafly, New Jersey, reports that the entire community of St. John the Theologian partners with the Center for Food Action (CFA), a local food pantry located in Englewood, New Jersey.  All Philoptochos members take part and individual board members manage the collections and deliver to CFA throughout the year.

Collection of food is done throughout the year, especially during the holiday seasons.  Flyers are mailed, distributed in the Sunday bulletin and posted throughout the Cathedral.  Collection bins are placed in 3-4 different areas as “drop off” locations.

Contributions are made by the Sunday School, Greek School, GOYA, HOPE and JOY, and Scouts.  Members from Kali Parea (senior group) also participate.  The main contributions are non-perishable foods such as canned goods, rice, pasta, low sugar cereal, powdered foods, crackers, peanut butter and jelly.  The chapter allocates certain collection items to different groups.  Youth groups collect baby food, diapers and formula.  Older parishioners collect energy drinks and incontinence items for seniors.

During the holiday season, money is allocated from the chapter treasury to purchase refrigerated food such as turkey, ham and fresh food.  Individual parishioners also donate money toward the purchase of food.
The chapter is working on a permanent storage area with shelving, to better stage and organize the food coming in and to identify foods that are lacking. For example, if there is too much pasta and no rice, it will be apparent that rice must be added.
From Holy Trinity St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Staten Island, New York

Children from Sunday School, helping Philoptochos package food collected from Make a Difference community effort for families in need.  These huge bags will supply 40 families with food for the upcoming holidays.
November National Ministry Commitment
APC/NSP Benevolent Fund 
Presv. Pauline Pavlakos, President, National Sisterhood of Presvyteres

The priests and presvyteres of our Archdiocese are very grateful to the Philoptochos for making the joint Archdiocesan Presbyters Council and National Sisterhood of Presvyteres (APC and NSP) Benevolent Fund a line item in your budget. We have an annual “Gifts of Love” appeal in February to raise money for this fund, but we would not be able to help as many families as we do, with their various urgent needs, without your selfless contributions. We cannot thank you enough for all you do to help with this very personal ministry and all the other good deeds of Philoptochos.

As stated in the bylaws of the benevolent fund, it was established to “offer assistance during a family crisis, medical emergency, and/or extreme financial need to a Priest and/or Presvytera who is/are currently serving, or has/have served, in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and/or their children.” The people who ask, or are referred, for help are truly at the end of their rope. Their circumstances are heartbreaking. The administrators of the benevolent fund (the presidents and vice presidents of the National Sisterhood of Presvyteres and the Archdiocesan Presbyters Council) prayerfully consider requests and strive to be good stewards of the monies donated. Just as the Philoptochos does, they tend to all requests for benevolence with discretion, courtesy, and kindness.

From January 1, 2016 to October 31, 2016, the Benevolent Fund made 68 disbursements in the amount of $45, 870.56, with more disbursements pending. We responded to critical needs such as medical, rent, utility, and insurance payments. 

Most presvyteres are members of Philoptochos. As such, they witness and help with Philoptochos’ philanthropic efforts to aid the poor; promote charity; preserve and perpetuate Orthodox Christian concepts and the Orthodox Christian family; and promote participation in the activities of the Greek Orthodox community. We encourage all presvyteres to become active members of Philoptochos. We firmly believe that every Greek Orthodox woman should be a “Philoptochos lady.”

Thank you again for all you do for the APC and NSP, and all your other commitments and programs. We are here to help in any way that we can, so please do not hesitate to call upon us.
Date Set for 2017 Children's Medical Fund Luncheon!
Anne Michals, Luncheon Chair and Metropolis of New Jersey Philoptochos President
 
Under the High Patronage of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America, and with the spiritual blessings of His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey, the  2017 National Philoptochos Children's Medical Fund Luncheon will be held on November 11, 2017 and hosted by the Metropolis of New Jersey Philoptochos at The Venetian, a magnificent venue in Garfield, New Jersey.

Please mark your calendar for the CMF Luncheon on November 11, from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.

The Children's Medical Fund has made a significant and positive difference in the lives of children throughout the United States and other parts of the world.  Since 1989, through the generous support of committed and dedicated Philoptochos stewards, over $3 million has been donated to medical programs and facilities that offer care, treatment, innovative research and cures.  

Additionally, the Children's Medical Fund provides ongoing assistance to medically fragile children.  It is our hope to reach a significant level of giving from all over the country, which will offer the opportunity to grant substantial awards to children's hospitals, research and special programs to benefit children throughout the Metropolis of New Jersey and the country.  
"Philanthropy by Philoptochos" Blogsite

We want your story!
Did you know that Philoptochos has a truly terrific blogsite? Well, we do, and we are looking for more blog entries to share with all our membership!

Each of our members has a story to share that has a Philoptochos angle. It can be funny, poignant, educational, inspirational…the possibilities are unlimited!

You do not need to be a Pulitzer Prize winning author to submit an article. All entries are welcomed!

The blogsite is easily accessible through www.philoptochos.org.  Scroll down the home page and on the left side you will see a “Blogger” link. Click on and read the entries that have been submitted by our talented Philoptochos members. You will recognize and appreciate the many different stories that have been shared.

At the end of the entries are the very simple guidelines for a blog entry submission.
 
All entries should be submitted to: communications@philoptochos.org 

Our National President Maria Logus has encouraged this effort and would like to see more members participate. You have a story to tell. Your Philoptochos sisters are a great and appreciative audience!

Looking forward to hearing from you!
"Shoppe Philoptochos"
Shoppe Philoptochos is an easy way to shop and support Philanthropic Outreach!

With the Christmas holidays rapidly approaching, we are all looking for that special gift for our families and friends. Let “Shoppe Philoptochos” help you out.
 
The photos above are two of our most popular items. The Philoptochos sterling silver charm bracelet has a double-sided Logo charm that is permanently attached. Additional Philoptochos-specific charms are available to add to your bracelet!

We have not forgotten the men in our lives and commissioned a Philoptochos Logo men’s tie in both navy blue and ruby wine. These ties are 100% silk and are handsomely packaged.

Your support of the Shoppe Philoptochos store will not only save you time,  it will help our organization to continue its philanthropic mission.

Click here for product details.  Click here to order online.
Shop and Support Philoptochos Social Services!
 
Consider doing some of your Christmas shopping on Smile.Amazon.com and buy toys, electronics, clothing, food and even household items for your loved ones or for yourself.  Shoppers can support National Philoptochos every time they shop, at no additional cost.
The program allows customers to select a charitable organization to which 0.5% of every purchase made is donated.  By selecting National Philoptochos, you will be donating to Philoptochos Social Services.  Since the beginning of our partnership in 2014, $400 has been collected through this initiative.  We can increase this amount if more people join and order!
Shopping through this site is exactly like shopping on regular Amazon, using the same account and with the same prices.  There is no cap on the amount Amazon will donate and almost every product is eligible.
Follow these easy steps:
  • Access Amazon through Smile.Amazon.com.  You will be prompted to select a charitable organization to which the Amazon Smile Foundation will donate 0.5% of every purchase made. 
  • Select National Philoptochos (or tax ID 13-6147442) as the charity you wish to support. It is extremely important that this specific name “National Philoptochos” be chosen in order to contribute donations for National Philoptochos Social Services. 
  • Shop online in the same way you always have. Smile.Amazon.com will remember your selection of National Philoptochos, and then every eligible purchase you make will result in a donation.
Help share the blessings of the season with others by supporting our partnership with Smile.Amazon.com. And note that this program is in effect 365 days per year!
For more details, click here.






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