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AHI Supports “Plant Your Roots In Greece” Fire Relief Campaign for Greece
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: GEORGIA ECONOMOU
October 2, 2007—No. 62 (202) 785-8430

AHI Supports “Plant Your Roots In Greece” Fire Relief Campaign for Greece

WASHINGTON, DC—The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) expresses its sincerest condolences to the families of those who were lost during the tragic wave of forest fires that afflicted Greece in late August 2007. AHI sadly regrets the catastrophic ecological damage and loss of property and livestock, the effects of which will be felt for decades to come.

To help address the longer-term environmental issue that poses a tremendous threat to both the people and ecology of Greece, AHI is launching a fundraising effort targeted specifically at reforestation of the affected land. All proceeds will be contributed to the Plant Your Roots in Greece Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, tax exempt organization under the auspices of the Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE)/USA and the Hellenic American National Council (HANC) that has been active over the past ten years. The American Hellenic Institute’s Advisory Committee has already committed a sum of $10,000 to launch this effort.

“The devastation in Greece is a catastrophe of over 800,000 acres,” said Ted G. Spyropoulos, president of the Plant Your Roots in Greece Foundation and coordinator of SAE/USA. “This vast fire catastrophe that has happened will also affect the climate of Greece. It is so important in the next few years for everyone to think about that and to support our efforts to reforest Greece not only in the Peloponnese, but also in the area surrounding Athens that happened in July, and in the center of Greece,” he continued.

According to Greek firefighting authorities, the 2007 wildfire season was the worst on record. In late August alone, fires that swept across the Peloponnese and in Evia killed 66 people, bringing the total number of deaths for 2007 to 76. The U.S. Agency for International Development estimates that from August 23 to August 31, more than 130 fires broke out in the Peloponnese alone, including 82 blazes between August 23 and 25. The number of homes and buildings destroyed or damaged in August is estimated to range from 1,700 to 4,000, with thousands of livestock also perishing.

In terms of real numbers, initial estimates put damage to cattle and agricultural capital at around $2 billion, with total costs expected to rise above $5.4 billion. Gross domestic product is also expected to drop by between 0.2 percent and 0.5 percent over the next two to four years.

AHI’s recommendation to fund reforestation aims to address the significant longer term needs of the people of Greece as the ecological and environmental damage from the loss of such an extensive number of trees will adversely impact Greece’s economy while also raising important health and public safety concerns.

How You Can Help

You can help in this crucial effort by making a tax-deductible donation.

Send Funds Today:

Please make your tax-deductible contributions payable to the “American Hellenic Institute Foundation,” with the memo specifying “Plant Your Roots In Greece” Fund and mail to 1220 16th St. NW, Washington, DC 20036. AHIF will send the funds collected in bulk to the Plant Your Roots in Greece Foundation.

You can also contribute directly to Plant Your Roots in Greece by submitting your contribution to one of two funds that have been established, or online:

  1. Chicago Community Bank Acct: # 459-0070-59 
    234 S Wabash Ave FL2-Chicago, IL 60604-2365
  2. Deposits in Greece:
    Alpha Bank Acct: # 143-0021-1-037288
    Eurobank Acct: # 0026.0012.39.0100763237
  3. You can also contribute by filling out the online form available at http://www.saeusa.org/.

You can also help by volunteering to plant trees in Greece:

The Plant Your Roots in Greece Foundation is also organizing individuals and groups to plant trees in the affected areas in Greece between October 2007 and March 2008, which covers the time period that trees are best able to be planted.

If you are interested in joining this volunteer effort, please contact the Council of Hellenes Abroad in the U.S. at (773) 783-5555. Volunteers are urgently needed.

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For additional information, please contact Georgia Economou at (202) 785-8430 or [email protected]. For general information regarding the activities of AHI, please view our Web site at http://www.ahiworld.org.