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Free Christmas lunches provided by the Greek Red Cross

25 December 2010 / 12:12:11  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

From very early morning in front of the building of the Red Cross in Athens started to gather hundreds of people. Lonely elders, immigrants, homeless and refugees awaited for the giving away free lunches to start, which the organization traditionally provides to the disadvantaged people during the Christmas and New Year holidays.

"The department of Social Welfare of the Hellenic Red Cross organizes every year during Christmas and New Year holidays free lunches for vulnerable groups of people. This year on the Eve of the holidays themselves a total of approximately 12,000 lunches will be given out, which we call "lunches with love," said for GRReporter the social worker Lambrini Aleksaki, who is responsible for coordinating the initiative.

The food that the Red Cross gives out is warm. "Today we gave out lamb cooked in an oven with potatoes, salad, cake, fruit, croissant and a soft drink. Tomorrow the lunch will be made of stuffed turkey, potatoes and all the other things I listed. We try in these days to help people who don’t have the chance to celebrate with family and friends, to feel a little more festive", said further Mrs. Aleksaki. Volunteers, have also taken lunches in the homes of people with disabilities.

According to her lunches are only a part of the activities of the department of social care. "A few days ago we gave out gift vouchers worth 45 euros in a supermarket chain to 1,700 families registered in the program. Last night was also held the so-called "Street Walk". This is an activity in which participate volunteers from different districts in Athens, who gave the homeless clothes and food. This activity will be carried out once again on New Year's Eve". In the packages which the volunteers gave away to the people who sleep on the street, there was a blanket, a hat and a set of hygiene accessories. Furthermore, in the shelters of the organization were housed 76 people on the 70 beds provided.

Lunch are distributed from 9 to 13 o’clock. Half an hour later in front of the entrance of the Red Cross continued to gather people, mostly immigrants who were trying to get inside. On the inside of the building staff and volunteers had already begun to clear the tables. "The portions for today have already been distributed, not a single one has remained. Outside there are people who still wait, but we believe that some of them passed several times and took more than one portion. The registering system is not electronic and this allows to several people to come and get lunch with the same note. Therefore, we believe that some of them may have taken a lunch several times", said the coordinator.

When I left the building the crowd of waiting people had decreased but still there were people who insisted on receiving portions. On the bar on one of the shafts of the subway were left empty cans of food consumed on the spot. Next to them were left untouched two portions, and an old man was holding two blue bags and was trying to collect their content in one.


Tags: Society Red Cross free lunches
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