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9 H.U.G.S. : Embracing Communities Around the World

By Loulou Chryssides

During the current COVID-19 crisis, inspiring stories have emerged from around the world of communities coming together to help one another. One such organization is the New York-based 9 H.U.G.S.

Established in 2013, 9 H.U.G.S has worked with nations around the world to benefit those who need it the most. Examples of missions are donating essential supplies to hospitals in hurricane-stricken Puerto Rico, giving back to orphanages and communities following the devastating 2018 wildfires in Greece’s Attica region, and more recently, assisting in the effort to provide clean water around Kenya.

As with many other missions, many of 9 H.U.G.S. missions were forced to come to a pause due to travel logistics. However, founders Anna Maria Kalonaris & Maria Mendorou immediately placed the communities likely to be the most impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown: the elderly, and families in distress due to job loss, health concerns, missed rent payments, etc.

9 H.U.G.S. began to partner with Astoria’s Solletto to make food, pay per plate of food, and use the front space of the restaurant to provide struggling families with meals to-go. As for the elderly, those behind 9 H.U.G.S. also coordinated delivery services to ensure that vulnerable populations who are unable to leave their home received necessary meals. On average during the current COVID-19 pandemic, 9 H.U.G.S. has provided approximately 2,000 meals per week.

Left to right; top to bottom: Anna Maria Kalonaris, Maria Mendorou, Mina Perikleous, Christine Koufalis Karanikas, Eleni Petropoulos, Lu Argyris.

In addition to assisting affected communities, 9 H.U.G.S has extended their philanthropic efforts to 11 hospitals throughout the New York City area. You may have even seen their work, specifically at Elmhurst Hospital, where the team enlisted NBA stars Allen Houston and Clyde Frazier to send heartwarming messages to thank the staff working tirelessly, in addition to coordinating a live rendition of ‘Empire State of Mind’ by a Julliard student.

The organization plans to expand their mission to assist areas throughout the United States by establishing satellite offices in hard-hit states such as California and Texas. Assistance from large donors such as Scottish American Insurance, which has matched donations dollar-to-dollar have been vital in ensuring representation and assistance reach as many communities as possible.

Give Me Astoria is proud to join forces with 9 H.U.G.S. through the donation of funds to our official GoFundMe to keep this mission of helping those who may be struggling continue to receive daily meals. If you would like to learn more about 9 H.U.G.S., please visit its official website or Instagram page.

 

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