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September 16, 2004
Reverend Father and Beloved in the Lord:
Children are very much on our minds at this time due to the recent tragic events in Beslan, Russia. The entire human family has been touched by this tragedy that robbed hundreds of innocent victims of their lives and hundreds more of their innocence. It is also at this time that I again ask your support for the Annual Christmas Stocking Project, an outreach effort of the Orthodox Church in America’s Office of Humanitarian Aid. The Christmas Stocking Project is very dear to all of us precisely because it provides and opportunity to touch the lives of thousands of young children. Last year we were able to meet our goal and provided stockings or equivalent gifts to 15,000 grateful children. The many letters of gratitude and accompanying photos assured us that the Christmas gifts were happily received by the children. We sincerely thank all of you who made this possible.
This year I visited the Republic of Georgia where we were most graciously received by one of the most ancient of the Orthodox Churches. Located in the troubled Caucasus region, Georgia has seen sustained upheaval, and new development is slow in coming. Children in this country would greatly enjoy a gift at Christmas, and we would like to include them—with your help.
We are therefore this year raising our goal of 15,000 stockings or equivalent gifts to 18,000 gifts and hope that your extra efforts will make this hoped for goal become a reality. We will continue to send Christmas gifts to children in Russia, Albania, Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine and some villages in Alaska.
I encourage the young people of the parishes in their creative efforts to raise funds for the Christmas gifts. It is heartening to know of their successful projects, and I welcome more youth groups to join in.
Each stockings (or equivalent gift) remains at $4.50. $45.00 will provide for 10 children, $450.00 for 100 children. Please plan your projects and collections early in the fall. Send your donations to the Chancery Office to the attention of Mrs. Arlene Kallaur, as close as possible to October 31st.
The beautiful report of the distribution of Christmas gifts sent to us from the Orthodox Church of Albania this past year was titled “Someone is thinking of you.” Please join me in making it possible for 18,000 children of little means to know that we, their Orthodox brothers and sisters in America, continue to think of them in this small but concrete way. Only by such acts of caring and sharing can the love of Christ shine through in these troubled times.
With love in Christ,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada