ATHENS, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- A charity Christmas tree was set up Friday in Athens with milk tins and other food products available for poor households to spread hope among needy children that not one will be left without help during the festive season.
Throughout Friday thousands of people responded for a fourth consecutive year to the appeal made by non-government group "Doctors of the World" to donate milk, rice, beans, legumes, sugar, olive oil and other canned food products which will offer families in need a break from misery on Christmas.
Four years ago, the group launched the initiative of charity Christmas tree in an effort to bring the misery of kids from poor households to public attention.
"The idea came when a little girl, when asked what present she wants Santa Claus to bring her, said a glass of milk," Giannis Giannakopoulos, member of Board of Directors at the group told Xinhua.
"So, we thought about setting up a tree of milk in order to send a message of solidarity and raise social awareness to the problem so that we can help these children in particular during the festive season," he said.
The debt crisis which has hit hard the country since 2009 has fuelled poverty rates. The Doctors of the World and other humanitarian groups have recorded an increasing number of cases of malnourished children in recent years, and offered support with people's help.
In 2012, more than 55,000 cans of milk and four tons of other food products were collected and distributed via the organization's polyclinics.
In the first year of the annual charity event it was just 5,000 cans.
This year the milk tree has grown and stretched out its branches all over the country, as similar trees were erected on Friday in other three major Greek cities, according to the group.
Giannakopoulos and other volunteers in front of the old university on Friday seemed to be sure that this year a new record will be set.
It is a small, but important gesture of love and solidarity in a period when we all need to do something together, volunteers said.
Their only wish for 2014 is that Greece will exit the crisis and there will be no need for such charity events in the near future. Until then, they promised to be always available, ready to offer some relief to all children in need.