A new global initiative was recently launched to help restore the birthplace of the Olympic Games at Ancient Olympia, where 450,000 olive trees were destroyed by the catastrophic fires of last summer.
By Stacy Dimakakos
Last summer Greece experienced one of the worst ecological disasters in its history. Catastrophic fires, fanned by record high temperatures, burned through more than 250,000 acres across the country – destroying forests, farms, and entire villages.
To put this in perspective, the magnitude of the devastation is the equivalent of destroying an area the size of all of New York City (Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island) and most of Long Island.
The World Heritage Site of Ancient Olympia, where the first Olympic Games were held, lost 450,000 olive trees in these devastating fires. Thousands of farmers thereby lost their means of livelihood.
To counter the devastation, a new global initiative has been launched to restore the birthplace of the Olympic Games and offer a message of hope to those who lost everything in the fires, one tree at a time.
Olympia is a recognized global symbol of human excellence. Preserving Olympia will ensure that the rich history and universal human values that the site was built upon is handed over to future generations.
Plant an olive tree in ancient Olympia
“The Olympia Trees Project” was created to help regenerate the land and support local farmers by replanting 100,000 olive trees. This multinational effort invites everyone — organizations and individuals — to plant an olive tree in Ancient Olympia.
Each tree could have a life span of thousands of years. We can all plant a tree in celebration of the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics, in honor of a loved one, or to commemorate a special occasion.
Leading the U.S. fund-raising efforts is the Arete Fund, a California based 501(c)3 nonprofit, founded by Dianne Tittle de Laet, the daughter of NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Tittle.
The Olympics inspire us to solve problems in friendship and solidarity. They inspire us to build bridges. Having witnessed the devastating wildfires in her native state of California, de Laet was impassioned to lend her support, partnering with the Regional Governor of Western Greece, Nektarios Farmakis, and Yanos Gramatidis, of the law firm Bahas, Gramatidis & Partners, to raise awareness in the US and encourage other Americans to help.
Thanks to the enormous support from both individual and corporate donors, the campaign has already raised $360,000 since October. This is enough to treat the soil and to purchase and replant 45,000 trees, almost half of the overall goal.
The Olympia Trees Project is still counting on your support to close the gap before planting season; their deadline is March of 2022.
The olive tree is a global symbol of peace and unity. It is a symbol of the Olympic ideal. It links Greeks to their traditions, roots and values. The olive tree is also an economic necessity. For untold generations, families in Greece and across the Mediterranean have relied on the olive tree for their livelihood.
Each tree costs just $5.00 to purchase directly from the supplier. For those who do help plant trees for Greece, 100% of their tax-deductible donation will go directly towards repairing the damaged soil and purchasing and replanting the trees.
You can find information on how to donate on The Olympia Trees Project website.
The objective of the campaign is to make the donation process as transparent and efficient as possible. The Arete Fund will purchase the olive trees directly from the suppliers and provide them to the Ministry of Western Greece to distribute and plant. Auditing and distribution accounting services will be provided by the certified accounting firm RSM pro bono.
Every donor will receive a letter of appreciation from Governor Farmakis as well as a photo of the land that benefited from the contribution.
The project is also being supported by the office of the General Secretary of the Greek Prime Minister and the Greek Ministry of Finance. Corporate donors include Johnson & Johnson, AVIS, Ernst & Young and Deloitte, among others.