Marina Tsirambidis graduated from high school this year and in typical American fashion — her parents Julie and Tim hosted a graduation party for family and friends to celebrate the teen’s milestone.
By all accounts, it was an epic, big, fat Greek American graduation party with hundreds of guests eating and dancing the night away.
Graduation parties for young Americans have become a rite of passage, from youth to young adulthood — with a warm send off and gifts from well-wishers — usually an envelope stashed with cash that’s intended to help the graduate with college expenses.
But for this teenager, who is ferociously proud of her Greek heritage and her Greek Orthodox Christian faith that her parents raised her in, her donation of $1000 will mean helping other young people less fortunate in Greece, where her grandparents came from.
Tsirambidis, who excelled in the classroom, on the soccer field, on the ballet stage — and even as a dancer in her Pontian youth group — decided to donate a portion of the proceeds from her graduation party to a fundraising and awareness campaign supporting children in Greece.
In an email she wrote to the organization’s founder, Gregory C. Pappas, Tsirambidis asked that her donation be earmarked to one specific charity, Kivotos Tou Kosmou, which supports hundreds of abandoned children in a network of three facilities in Athens, Chios and Epirus.
Tsirambidis said she plans to continue supporting the charity throughout the year and expressed interest in visiting during her family’s next trip to Greece so she can meet some of the children and even volunteer.
The complete text of Tsirambidis’ letter to Gregory C. Pappas follows.
Good morning Mr Pappas,
My mama and baba asked me to reach out to you about the donation we are giving to the Greek America Foundation’s “Children of Greece” campaign, specifically to “Kivotos tou Kosmou” The Ark of the World.
As you know, I recently graduated high school and my parents gave me a truly “Big Fat Greek Graduation Party.” It was amazing. I know I am surrounded by lots of family and friends and a community of love, and I do not take it for granted. I enjoy spending my time in our Greek Orthodox community and I returned, just today, from church camp where the theme was all about God’s great mercy and love for us.
After reading about what Fr. Antonios and Presbytera Stamatia are doing at Kivotos Tou Kosmou, I feel called even more to contribute in a small way. I want to be the kind of Christian that shows that same love and mercy, because I have grown up learning about the challenges that my parents and grandparents faced, who came to the USA from Greece.
I know I have a privilege that is unlike many others and I guess I want to never stray too far from the memory of the struggles of my own family and people. I was given a generous amount of money for my graduation party, and while I would like a brand new Mac Computer, I think I will buy a used one for now.
I would like to donate $1000 to Kivotos Tou Kosmou, to help children who are struggling. I want to do something about this social issue and what better place than in my family’s motherland where there is need. I do not just want to donate, which I know is needed, but I want to go and spend time there helping the kids.
I hope to visit this special place next summer and spend a few days seeing how we are contributing to the improvement in the lives of these kids.
Mr. Pappas, I also read and see what you do through the Greek America Foundation and want to become more involved.
Thank you for this vehicle to safely donate to an organization that is doing something really meaningful to help other kids. I know this is the kind of person I want to become when I graduate as a teacher, as well.
Thank you Mr. Pappas
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