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LIers and Hempstead officials joining forces to help victims of Greek wildfires

Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen, Long Island

Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen, Long Island Greek-American Chamber of Commerce president John Tsunis and Greek Orthodox Church leaders announced efforts to help Greeks impacted by devastating wildfires at a press conference in Mineola on Friday. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Long Islanders and Hempstead Town officials are rallying the local Greek community to help the hundreds affected by wildfires in Greece that have ravaged a section of the country.

Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen said that with 4,000 residents, the town is home to Long Island’s largest Greek-American community, second only in the state to New York City. In an effort to help those affected by the tragedy, the town is partnering with the Long Island Greek American Chamber of Commerce and the Greek Orthodox Church to collect donations.

“Our town has a thriving population of Greeks and Greek-Americans,” Gillen said. “We’re urging residents to assist in relief efforts so local authorities make sure supplies are purchased locally and delivered as soon as possible.”

The wildfires in Greece have killed nearly 100 people and burned hundreds of homes in the area surrounding Athens.People have been forced to flee to the countryside and toward the Mediterranean Sea for safety, Long Island Greek American Chamber of Commerce president and Gold Coast Bank CEO John Tsunis said.

On Tuesday, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras declared a three-day national mourning period.

“Greek-Americans have a strong sense of family and we’re appealing to the Greek-American people to help the people suffering,” Tsunis said.

Gillen solicited donations Friday with Tsunis at Gold Coast Bank in Mineola. She said town officials have also been in contact with the U.S. State Department to help residents searching for victims.

Donations can be made directly to Gold Coast Bank or through the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association, which has already donated $50,000 to relief efforts, officials said. They can also be made via the association’s website at

“We may be separated by an ocean, but the Town of Hempstead stands as a family with those injured and trying to put their lives back together,” Gillen said.

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