September 30 has been established since 2007, according to a Presidential Decree, as a day of remembrance for the National Benefactors. Benefit is a shining example of the Greek reality and our national history, as it was a unique phenomenon, which contributed decisively to the liberation of the nation and the subsequent course of the Greek state. According to Tomara – Sideris “As benevolence or otherwise benevolence, is defined the noblest manifestation of human interest, manifestation of social, national and intercultural consciousness”. Papaefstathiou-Tsaga informs us that “The donor, shouldering works of the coordinated state, in a spirit of self-offering, with the aim of the well-being of the beneficiary, who is in a miserable position, offers part of his property for public benefit purposes.”

Benevolence, “grace to the city and the nation”, is primarily a Greek custom and has its roots in Greek antiquity, known as the institution of sponsorship according to Anastasios Papastavros. During the long period of the Ottoman Empire, many Greeks, living in absolute poverty, left their homeland, seeking their fortune in Europe, Russia, Africa and elsewhere. Benefit is inextricably linked to the phenomenon of migration. Most of the benefactors came from poor families, others of course from very affluent ones, who migrated, worked hard, having a moral and demonic entrepreneurial spirit, got rich, without altering the kindness of their character, living with austerity and chastity their only desire is to offer themselves to the Nation.

Anastasios Papastavros, who has dealt extensively with the issue of the Epirote benefactors, informs us that the term “National Benefactor” is possessed by thirty persons. It is a title which was officially awarded by the Greek State, in an institutionalized way. These people are the people of Epirus Averoff, Arsakis, Dombolis, Zappes, Zografos, Zosimades, Kaplanis, Mellas, Bagas, Rizarides, Sines, Stavrou, Stournaris, Tositsas and Hatzikostas. As well as Syggros from Constantinople, Benakis from Syros, Papafis from Thessaloniki, Harokopos from the Dodecanese, Doumbas and Bellios from Macedonia, Vallianos from Kefalonia, Vernadrakis from St. Petersburg, Russia Varvakis from Psara and Maraslis from Odessa.

The idea of benevolence was developed during the 18th century, but mainly during the 19th and 20th centuries, in communities where Greek businessmen from the Diaspora served communism, covering the vital needs of enslaved Hellenism but also contributing to the foundation of the newly formed Greek state, through the establishment of public, charitable foundations, which contributed to health, the spread of education and the supply of the Modern Greek Enlightenment according to K. Nikolaidis.

Epirus was the cradle of benevolence and is rightly considered the “homeland of the benefactors”. Of the thirty officially named National Benefactors, fifteen came from Epirus as a whole, including the Northern Epirus. The barren, poor Epirus, under the Turkish yoke, highlighted a number of important personalities, who were to mark with their arrogant offer, the future of Greece.

The National Technical University of Athens, the Kapodistrian University, the Zappeion, the Kallimarmaro, the Arsakeio, the National Archaeological Museum and many more are works of Epirus Benefactors, which adorn the capital. The benefactors also made feats in their homeland, Epirus, but also in the communities that were created business and lived, in many cases, until the end of their lives, as some of them never returned to their homeland, as Sp. Kamalakis.

The three National Benefactors, originally from Metsovo, jointly contributed to the establishment of the National Technical University of Athens. Specifically, Dimitrios Stournaras, nephew of the other National Benefactor, Michael Tositsa, settled in Alexandria, the headquarters of the Tositsa companies, where he worked hard. He was a great visionary and bequeathed to the Greek state and public organizations 1,500,000 gold drachmas, for the construction of schools and charities in his hometown, Metsovo and Alexandria, as well as for the establishment of the Polytechnic in Athens according to A. Papastavros.

Michael Tositsas was born in Metsovo in 1787, set up a colossal company in Alexandria and donated large sums of money to the Greek Community of Alexandria but also to the Greek state and its homeland. Specifically, he was interested in the educational, economic and cultural prosperity of Metsovo, founded the Amalieio Orphanage, the Greek School of Thessaloniki, allocated large sums for health, education, landscaping of the capital, as well as participated in the reconstruction of the National Polytechnic. After his death, his wife Eleni continued his work, with the reconstruction of the Tositsio Girl’s School and the National Archaeological Museum.

The third National Benefactor from Metsovo, George Averoff, the “rector” of the younger National Benefactors, was born in 1818 and was active in Cairo and Alexandria. Its benefits are innumerable, of which the establishment and maintenance of the Agricultural School of Larissa, the construction of a warship, the refurbishment of the Panathinaikos Stadium, the establishment of the School of Guards, the completion of the reconstruction and the reconstruction large sums of money to the National Bank for public benefit purposes in his particular homeland and finally, a loan to the Greek state, which he later granted as mentioned in the bibliography of Ch. Tsetsis.

Arsakis, Zappas, Zografos, Bagas and the Sines were originally from Northern Epirus. Apostolos Arsakis was born in 1792, in Hotohova of the Northern Epirus, he studied in Vienna, he contributed to the Greek Revolution and the spiritual rise of the Greeks. A large school building in Athens, the “Arsakeio”, was built at his own expense. He founded Arsakeio School in his particular homeland, took care of their maintenance and operation and offered large sums for public benefit projects.

The cousins Evangelis and Konstantinos Zappas originated from Lambovo in the Northern Epirus, who owned colossal property, allocating it for the construction of schools in Epirus and as donations to orphanages, the National Library, the Grand Library, the Academy at the Academy charity the construction of the Zappeion Megaron.

Christakis Zografos, born in Kastorati, Northern Epirus, in 1820, came from a wealthy family and studied at the Zosima School of Ioannina. His benefits are innumerable in the field of letters for the education of the enslaved Hellenism, while in his particular homeland he founded the “Painting Teaching”, with a doctorate, library and orphanage.

Ioannis Bagas was born in Karytsa, Northern Epirus, in the year 1814. He was active in Thebes, Chalkida, Alexandria and Romania, making a large fortune, which he returned to Greece and settled in Athens at an advanced age donated to the Greek state, keeping a small amount for his livelihood.

George Sinas, originally from Moschopolis in northern Epirus, was active in Austria-Hungary as a banker and owned large tracts of land there. The sums he donated to charity for his birthplace, the Greek state and the Greek

community of Vienna were enormous. His largest donation was the one intended for the establishment and equipment of the Athens Observatory. His son Simon Sinas continued his charitable work.

Georgios Stavrou, Vassilios Melas and Georgios Chatzikostas came from Ioannina, while Ioannis Dombolis came from the village of Despotiko in Ioannina, Zois Kaplanis and the Zosimades brothers from Grammeno and the Rizarides from Monodendri, Zagori. Their offer in the area of Ioannina and not only, invaluable, like that of the Zosimada brothers, who came from a wealthy family. Born between 1754 and 1762, they never married, so as not to have offspring, in order to dispose of their property in their homeland. Through the Zosima Brotherhood, with their property, the “Zosima School of Ioannina” was founded, the Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Savior on the Island, churches, a nursing home, scholarships were awarded to the needy and many girls from Grammeno and Ioannina were gifted.

Vassilios Melas, born in 1819, was engaged in trade and according to his will, his property was used for the education of the Greek children. Manthos and Georgios Rizaris were active in Nizhny Novgorod, Ukraine. Manthos Rizaris was a member of the ‘’Filiki Eteria, together they contributed to the struggle for liberation, strengthened education by founding schools, as well as the famous “Rizareio Ecclesiastical School”. In his will, Ioannis Dombolis bequeathed to the Greek state 815,000 rubles for the construction of a University in Athens, which would be named after Kapodistrias’ best friend..

George Stavrou, born in 1788, was described as “the Benefactor of the Benefactors”, he actively participated in the liberation of the Nation, allocating huge sums for this purpose, he was the founder of the National Bank and creator of the Orphanage of Ioannina. George Chatzikostas, born in 1753, came from a wealthy family, his contribution was invaluable in Ioannina with the establishment of the Hospital of Ioannina but also with the construction of numerous churches.

Special mention should be made of Zois Kaplanis, Georgios Averof and Michail Tositsa, whose work and contribution certainly had an impact throughout the country, but they never forgot the place where they started. These are Metsovo and Zitsa, two areas of interest that in the framework of the planned projects provide buildings bequests of the aforementioned national benefactors.

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