Throughout the pandemic, Elias Giovanidis has been a volunteer at a food bank in Thessaloniki, providing meals for families struggling due to the Covid-19 crisis.
For his selfless work, the 24-year-old Greek Roma from Dendropotamos, Thessaloniki, was hailed by President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen on Twitter on Saturday.
Recognizing the immense weight of the pandemic on many in Europe, von der Leyen celebrated Giovanidis as an example of solidarity and kindness during the difficult period to all Europeans.
The crisis has been tough on many Europeans – but we can rely on each other.
In Thessaloniki, Elias volunteered with a food bank.
With his team, he cooked and packed meals for families in need.
Together, we will overcome this pandemic. pic.twitter.com/shCNAzP6TX
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) January 2, 2021
In response to von der Leyen’s statement, Giovanidis released his message of thanks: “I warmly thank the President of the European Commission for her acknowledgment of our work. This recognition propels us forward.”
Giovanidis and his team of generous volunteers, including his wife, at Lighthouse of the World food bank, work tirelessly to gather and organize food donations. They also cook and deliver food to families who have been left hungry and destitute due to the pandemic.
As he works full-time at a factory, Giovanidis uses nearly every moment of his free time, even his weekends, to provide meals to the hungry in the poor, primarily the Roma community of Dendropotamos.
Lighthouse of the World
The young man has been volunteering with the food bank, Lighthouse of the World, for many years. Giovanidis was first introduced to the organization by a local priest, Father Athinagoras Loukataris.
Speaking to AMNA, Giovanidis expressed his gratitude toward the priest who set him on this path of helping the hungry:
“Father Athinagoras is not just a priest; he is a model for me and he served as my father figure. He helped my finish school and he was always supportive. Now I want to help those who are in need,” Giovanidis explains.
“I feel indebted to repay all of the good that others have done for me, and I have learned to stand in solidarity with others,” Giovanidis stated.
Lighthouse of the World began its work in Dendropotamos, Thessaloniki in 2004 when Father Athinagoras Loukataris saw the incredible poverty and hunger existing in the community.