hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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February 3, 2011

Teen feeds hundreds with Food for Friends

On Saturday morning, when some kids her age were sleeping, playing video games or going to the mall, Pike School eighth-grader Victoria Skrivanos was cooking and serving a meal at the Holy Apostles Saints Peter and Paul Greek Orthodox Church in downtown Haverhill as part of Food for Friends, the nonprofit organization she founded in October 2009.

Victoria, 14, who lives in Andover with her parents, Lorna and Konstantino, and brother Niko, said she began Food for Friends because it combined two of her favorite activities.

"Community service is something I've been so passionate about, and I've always loved to cook," she said. "So I put two things I love together."

The Skrivanos family attends the Haverhill church, where Food for Friends serves a monthly meal.

Saturday's meal, which included a salad, bread, orzo, steak tips, cake and home-made chocolate chip cookies, was the 14th of its kind at the church, and served more than 100 people.

"Anyone is welcome," she said.

Victoria, who has raised more than $12,000 by herself to help pay for the food through an e-mail, letter-writing and phone call fundraising campaign, said her motivation partly stems from the reaction of the first feeding 14 months ago.

"I knew how appreciative they were and how happy they were. One man said to me, 'If it weren't for you, we wouldn't eat,'" she said.

She said the name for the organization came to her as organically as her call to service.

"Food for Friends just stuck," she said. "I wanted them to be my friends. I wanted to make it personal."

Victoria, who plays tennis and is busy applying to private high schools around the area, serves the meals on the last Saturday of every month.

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