The most beautiful Christmas tree in Athens is being built today at the subway entrance in front of the university. For the second year, the Greek branch of the international non-profit organization Medecins Du Monde and the civic organization Atenistas joined forces with the sole purpose to leave no child without a glass of warm milk during the holidays.
"The idea was born from the question of a child from our clinic who asked if Santa Clause brings milk. Then we thought we could do a Christmas tree of milk in order to provide the necessary amounts for the children who come to seek medical care from us and are the poorest in the city. At the same time, we would like to enable people to help and to show that solidarity and voluntary contributions are cheerful acts," said for GRReporter the chairman of Medecins Du Monde Nikitas Kanakis.
Today's initiative started at 3:00 pm and lasted until late evening. Already in the first hours, dozens of Athenians went to the wooden stall of the organization, carrying cans of condensed milk, pasta, canned food, olive oil and other foods in hand. Schools, companies, organizations, theatre groups and ordinary citizens were carrying boxes of milk. The base of the Christmas tree had been built by 4:30 pm and the flow of people did not stop. Young volunteers accepted the donations and arranged them carefully in cardboard boxes, and then arranged the boxes on top of each other to form a Christmas tree.
Five thousand boxes of milk and about three tons of food were collected in only one night during the initiative held last year for the first time. Nikitas Kanakis expressed his hope that large quantities would be collected this year, "because the needs and people's response are greater. It is important that there is a very large number of citizens and volunteers who feel the need to do something in these difficult days."
Two months ago, Medecins Du Monde alarmed that this year they will focus their activities in Greece, due to the deepening humanitarian crisis in the country, after the call for medicines which they had made in early 2011, launched a campaign to collect food for the people visiting their clinics in Athens, Thessaloniki and Perama.
"The campaign to make a tree is underway today, but we should support each other in all other days," said Mrs. Maria while emptying several bags of products from the supermarket. A group of young people also left a box of milk and packets of pasta, which they had bought with part of the money for the day. "Many of the people who come have financial difficulties but nevertheless, they have decided to spare some of their funds to help others, who are in greater need," said two women while watching the volunteers arranging the cardboard boxes of milk.
The wish of the kid that Santa Claus brings him milk will come true for many children thanks to donations from their fellow citizens and it brings hope.