Solidarity network links poor to donors

A citizens’ solidarity network, based on the premise of bringing together the needy with those able to donate various basic goods, held its first distribution session on Monday in the old station house near the Larissis railway depot in central Athens.

The initiative, which is being coordinated by the City of Athens but involves volunteers, distributed food and other goods to more than 3,500 beneficiaries who had submitted their details to municipal authorities.

The list is open to individuals whose annual income does not exceed 7,000 euros and to families whose income is less than 12,000 euros. Would-be claimants must submit a copy of their tax declaration for 2010 or 2011 to secure a place on the list. The first step is to telephone the solidarity network on 15422.

On Monday hundreds visited Larissis Station but most did not have to wait in line as packages were distributed from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Officials at City Hall, which has seen its budget seriously reduced since the onset of the crisis, said the initiative is based on the good will of citizens, firms and organizations. “It is always easier to give help in kind than financial aid,” Angeliki Antonopoulou, the deputy mayor responsible for donations and volunteer programs, told Kathimerini.

Already donations -- of many different kinds -- are reported to have flooded in. Members of the Greek community in New York are said to have sent large quantities of medicines, to boost the supplies of City Hall’s social pharmacy after Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis wrote an open letter asking for support.

An unidentified Greek shipowner is said to be offering families with unemployed members one-day cruises. Food manufacturers are boosting municipal soup kitchens. And private individuals have reportedly been coming forward and contributing what they can. 

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