NEW YORK – By Achilles Archie Mavromatis
The Community of St. Nicholas in Flushing was a hub of activity with over 75 GOYA members, parents, 15 vans, six passenger trucks and a police escort provided by the 111th Pct. Community Relations Office when they embarked on a mission of mercy. Food for the needy was the objective and the plan was to deliver the boxes of food goods, turkeys, breads and pies to those families to enjoy Thanksgiving.
It all started about 15 years ago when the GOYA started their Annual Thanksgiving Food Drive. The community would collect food and turkeys for the needy and distributed them to the less fortunate families around the holiday. They began with 14 families and have grown by leaps and bounds to an astonishing number of over 170.
This massive effort by the entire community two days before Thanksgiving did not happen overnight…it has been in the works for some time. It all begins with the general announcement from the pulpit and the parishioners begin to bring in non-perishable food products to the Church. Then you have the students of the William Spyropoulos School under Mary Tzallas, Assistant Principal and Student Council Advisor, disseminate necessary information through the Jr. Student Council, (3rd , 4th and 5th grades) and Sr. Student Council (6th, 7th and 8th grades) who prepare fliers and letters to be distributed to the entire student body. George Sidiroglou, 4th grader, understands the meaning of giving …” we gather food for those who can not afford a Thanksgiving.” Alexandra Pappas, 3rd grader, knew that they needed the parents help…”we need the parents to bring vans to drive the food to the families.”
“The idea is to help the poor with can goods and food for the Holiday’” said Nicky Tzallas, 3rd grader. The children also fund raise…Mary Chicora, 5th grade, said “we had a cake sale and collected over $700 to help the poor.” Demi Varis, 3rd grader said “we want to give food to the poor people, who do not have on Thanksgiving.”
You continue to spread the word through the community and before you realize, GOYA Advisors, Alexandra Kavounidis, chairperson, Irene Psilakis, co-chairperson along with Popi Theophanous organized the GOYA led by its president Faith Theophanous to amass and box the food for the poor. “This is the most meaningful thing we can do as Christians for our fellow man around this Holiday season,” said Georgia Ioannou, GOYA recording secretary. The GOYANs box and load and deliver the food to neighborhoods in Queens.
Many corporate sponsors and personal donations make this drive a success, they include: Walbaums, Vassilaros Coffee, Paul Kohilas from Refined Sugar, Peter Mavrikos donated the flour, Pumpkin pies were anonymously donated, the bread was bought in memory of Konstantinos Kyrillidis, as well as the personal donations from hundreds who opened their cupboards and their hearts to give to this worthwhile cause. In addition, many parents and members of the Parish Council volunteered their time for this effort. Some of them were: Mary Tsallis, Alex Pritsos, Nick Andriotis, Tony Coulianidis, Harry Nicolaou, Paul Misthos, Chris Pentazas and Tom Black. “It is a very special time of the year and a hard time for many families who do not have the way with all to provide their families with a Thanksgiving dinner. In some way we are helping to give to them a happier more memorable day,” said Alex Pritsos.
Before the trip began, all gathered in the Chapel with Fr. John Lardas and Fr. Paul Palesty and prayed. Fr. Paul gave a blessing and reminded everyone that, “we go forth as Christ did to give help to those less fortunate and how proud the community is for all the good and joy the GOYA Food Drive brings to so many families.”
The outpouring of love and caring starts from the very young all the way to the adults, as is evident in this philanthropic drive for Thanksgiving sponsored by the GOYA of St. Nicholas.