The ‘Marianna V. Vardinoyannis’ Foundation and the ‘ELPIDA-Association of Friends of Children with Cancer’ will be supporting families in need which are under the care and protection of the Holy Metropolis of Fthiotida with care packages this Easter.

After the decision of the President of the Honorary Committee of the ‘Thermopylae – Salamis 2020’ Anniversary Mrs Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, all the funds of the ‘Marianna V. Vardinoyannis’ Foundation that had been budgeted for the celebrations of the Anniversary will be disposed to support our fellow people who have been struck most by the Coronavirus pandemic.  In fact, the strategic decision of the Foundation regarding these funds was to support vulnerable populations in the regions of Salamis and Thermopylae.

To that end, Mrs Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, in response to the request made by his Eminence the Metropolitan of Fthiotida Mr Symeon, moved ahead with a mission of love and hope during the Holy Days of Easter.

Individuals belonging to vulnerable social groups throughout the vast area covered by the Metropolis of Fthiotida, an area of almost five thousand square kilometres, will receive in the following days, amid the coronavirus pandemic, care packages contain food and other essential items.

The caravan of love arrived at the Spiritual and Administrative Centre of the Holy Metropolis of Fthiotida on Tuesday 14 April 2020, and was received with gratitude by His Eminence Mr Symeon himself.

By Holy Thursday the care packages will have been forwarded to 24 different locations in the Prefecture of Fthiotida, under the personal care of Mr Symeon and his associates from the General Benevolent Fund and the Parish Benevolent Funds of the Metropolis. The registered families in need, the poorest of the poor, with specific income and social criteria, will have the opportunity to spend the Easter holidays with the care package that will arrive at their home.

Upon receiving the packages, His Eminence Mr Symeon contacted Mrs Marianna Vardinoyannis via Skype, and expressed his gratitude and thanks, as well as the thanks and gratitude of the local Church.   Below is their dialogue:

– Marianna Vardinoyannis: My heart opened up today, Your Eminence, during these lonely times we are experiencing. Seeing Your Holiness made me feel truly wonderful.

– His Eminence Mr Symeon: Mrs Marianna, first of all, I would like to offer you a rose. Even at a distance, even over the internet, a rose that reveals the glory of your heart and your emotions and your kindness and of the true beauty that lies in love. 

– Marianna Vardinoyannis: Thank you, truly, your words move me greatly, this gesture has touched my heart. This Holy Week is completely different from all others, but equally important for our soul, Your Eminence, for our spirit, for the solidarity that connects us to our fellow people.

These times we are going through are hard and our country is being tested. Those suffering most from this pandemic are the vulnerable, the elderly. It is so difficult to get to all of them. That is why I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the initiative you are providing us with through the avenues of love of the Holy Metropolis of Fthiotida, and the truly great humanitarian work you are doing. Our help is nothing compared to the great work you are doing, and we will be at your side for whatever you need. With humility we will truly contribute to your Godly work, which casts its rays of light all over Fthiotida. And, truly, in Thermopylae, for which we had different dreams, to honour our ancestors with this anniversary; but that too will be done. What is most important is humanitarianism, finding a way to help our fellow people, to prove to our ancestors that we are worthy, with heroism, sacrifice, and solidarity. We will do this for our fellow people, and the anniversary events will follow, with the humility and honour they deserve.

– His Eminence Mr Symeon: Dear Mrs Marianna, I think that you, personally, and Elpida, which I deeply love and which you know we have worked with for many years, are raising at this time the Thermopylae of love, the Thermopylae of solidarity, the Thermopylae of kindness, the Thermopylae of contribution. This caravan of love that started from Athens and you, arrived here in Fthiotida today, and it will reach poor families throughout our prefecture, throughout our Metropolis, which is very large. From Martino to Neo Monastiri and the 7 Municipalities in our region, and the families of our brothers who are being doubly tried, due to financial difficulties and the Coronavirus pandemic.

           You will provide much joy, much love, and, mainly, we will send them a message together, that the embrace of the Church, the embrace of Elpida, is holding them tightly, and they can feel the safety and warmth of someone caring about them, someone thinking about them. I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of my associates, and we truly want you near us, because this serves more than a material need. It mainly serves a need of the heart. It is a wonderful thing to have someone near you who loves you and cares for you. And for that reason, from the bottom of my heart, I would like to wish a Happy Easter to you, to all of your associates at the Elpida association, at the Marianna Vardinoyannis Foundation, at the Thermopylae Foundation, at the Committee of Thermopylae, and at whatever effort you give yourself; I would like to wish for God’s every blessing, every strength, and I pray that we always have a beautiful place in your grand heart. 

          – Marianna Vardinoyannis: Your Eminence, Your words have touched my heart. Your work is truly Godly, you have proven it so many times, and you are guiding us to contribute as much as we can. The word “Thermopylae” gives me strength, because we talked about what the concept of Thermopylae is earlier. So let us join our forces. I will always be at your side, not just now, I will always be with you, and I want you to keep me in your prayers, too; not me personally, but the children who are so vulnerable, and I am so very moved that I was able to speak to them today.  I did not know what excuse to give them for not being there, and I was searching to find the words, but I believe that they have guardian angels in our nurses, I thanked them individually; even the women who care for the children in the intensive care units, I had the chance to indirectly thank each of them separately. I wish I were there. 

           How the children need us to hold their hand tightly and embrace them. We have 178 nurses who are truly sacrificing themselves to keep the children healthy, because, as you know, Your Eminence, these children are the vulnerable groups, and I cannot sleep at night, because I keep thinking about waking up in the morning and calling to make sure they are all alright. Keep me in your prayers.+

           May the Virgin Mary embrace the children in her wings, may they get better, and may she protect them from the difficult circumstances our country finds itself in at this time.

          – His Eminence Mr Symeon: I would like to propose another collaboration now, because you have inspired me. Give me the permission to ask Mr Papasavvas, the Director of the Hospital, for the Christian names of all the employees and the children, so we can mention them in our prayers.

          – Marianna Vardinoyannis: Thank you very much, it will truly give them great pride and joy to know that we thought of the work they are doing, Your Eminence. You are doing great work and may God truly give you strength and protect you, because I know you from the many years that I have been observing your journey.

           I pray that you are always well and that you will always do this Godly work for our fellow people.  And that you will continue to be a guardian angel in the true sense, as you truly are, for our whole country, and that you will continue to inspire us, give us the strength and love to continue in your footsteps in the great work you are doing right now.

      – His Eminence Mr Symeon: Thank you from the bottom of our heart! 

      – Marianna Vardinoyannis: I hope we see you soon, I hope we hold hands with love again, and move ahead with our work. Even in this way, know that anything you need, now and in the future, no matter how long this situation lasts, I will always be at your side.

           May we have a blessed Easter and may God protect us from what has befallen us.

        – His Eminence Mr Symeon: Happy Easter!