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Assumption Greek Orthodox Church of Chicago Celebrates 90th Anniversary with 90 Acts of Kindness

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
Matthew 25:35-36

The Assumption Greek Orthodox Church of Chicago is pleased to announce its Sunday Church School 90 Acts of Kindness Challenge in commemoration of the community’s 90th Anniversary in 2015. Over the thirteen months beginning in September, 2014 and culminating in the Church’s Anniversary Dinner in October, 2015, the children of the Sunday Church School have pledged to complete ninety projects in support of Church ministries and local, national and international philanthropies.

Christina Arvanites, Director of Assumption Sunday Church School, describes the origins of the 90 Acts of Kindness Challenge: “My fellow teachers recognized the need to capture the imagination of our children as we approached the community’s 90th Anniversary. Hence, the genesis of the 90 Acts. What has been pleasantly surprising has been the parish’s response to the Challenge. Every week someone approaches me with an idea for another activity. Its means a lot to the children that their parents and grandparents are monitoring our Acts of Kindness Thermometer as the total advances to 90!”

The list of projects completed to date is staggering. The children fulfilled the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge—goading their parents to join them (Act #2). The Sunday Church School committed to sew 35 fleece blankets for the patients at Ronald McDonald House—Loyola University; Assumption delivered 55 (Act #7). Rather than overeating on Halloween candy, the children sent their excess to our troops overseas (Operation Gratitude—Act #11). They walked (5K Walk for the International Orthodox Christian Charities—Act #4) and they walked some more (St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital Give Thanks Walk—Act #15), and they even did some running (Dan Gibbons 5K Turkey Trot—Act #17). They wrote get well cards (Act #10) and they made snacks for homeless teens (Teen Living Programs—Act #12). They collected toys for distribution through Loretto Hospital (Act #20), toys for distribution through the Department of Children and Family Services (Act #21), and toys for a two year old named Ramona battling acute lymphocytic leukemia (Act #23). They delivered packages to the sick at Ronald McDonald House—Loyola (Act #9) and comforted the cancer patients on the Pediatric Unit at Rush Medical Center (Simply from the Heart—Acts #13 and #16).

Assistant Pastor Father Athanasios Papagianis shares his insight: “Prior to my enrollment in the seminary, I was a teacher. As a teacher, I discovered that children best remember those things taught by experiential learning. I can read the Gospel of Matthew and the kids will tune me out. I can ask them to live the Gospel of Matthew and they will recall it forever.”

Having completed more than a third of their 90 Acts, the children are now collecting soda can pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House—Lurie Children’s Hospital (Act #33), used glasses for the Lions Club Recycle for Sight Program, and magazines for the Teen Life Programs (Act #39). They will sew quilts for sick and abused children (Act #37), make sleeping bags for the homeless (Act #38), and distribute packages to cancer patients and their families (Act #40).

Father Timothy Bakakos, Pastor and Spiritual Advisor to the Sunday Church School, places the 90 Acts in the broader context of Greek Orthodox theology: “Philanthropy is a Greek word meaning ‘love of mankind.’ The Greeks have another word—philoxenia—which means ‘love of strangers.’ The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37) was revolutionary since Christ taught that our obligation to perform goods works extends not only to our relatives, neighbors and people who look like us, but to all God’s Children. The 90 Acts of Kindness Challenge has inspired our young people—and our adults—to remember the true meaning of the Gospel.”

Dr. Peter Panton, President of the Parish Council, recalls the legacy of the Assumption Church’s founders: “As immigrants, our founding generation lacked money, education and they spoke broken English. Nonetheless, they had an abiding faith which led to the construction of the magnificent edifice which we now call home. Many of that generation were recipients of acts of kindness. There can be no better memorial for our ancestors than to teach our children to become 21st Century Good Samaritans.”

To follow the progress of the 90 Acts of Kindness Challenge, log in to the Assumption Church website

Pictures are also available online.