As the death toll passes 11,000 people in Turkey and Syria, and millions are in need of shelter following a devastating earthquake, Turkish Americans in the Greater Boston area are mobilizing to help those displaced.
“The numbers go up. I’m scared to even look I’m not watching the news. All we are doing is around the clock right now, doing our best to organize people,” said Cenk Emre, founder of Free Range Market in Medford. The Turkish grocery store and coffee shop has become a donation collection center where dozens of volunteers have helped pack supplies into trucks headed to the airport.
“In the last 48 hours we were able to raise over $5 million and more than 10 truckloads of goods emergency relief goods that we’ve transported from Boston to Turkey,” said Emre.
The packages contain clothes, shoes, blankets, tents and more to help survivors through the winter. Each item is a reminder of the lives upended by this disaster.
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“Right now millions are in need of shelter unfortunately this moment. We as Turks here in Boston trying to do our best to pitch in and do our job for our community,” said Mustafa.
Seventeen-year-old Aysenur Karisu moved to Massachusetts a year and a half ago from Adana, Turkey. She said her mother still lives there and was not injured but she learned a friend from school was killed in the earthquake.
“They were so young, they had future ahead of them and it just hurts me,” said Karisu. “I feel sad. I feel sad that this happened and I am also angry. I think many people are and so many people are so scared.”
“Our very close friend’s family they are still under the buildings. We are so sorry,” said Dr. Nese Lortlar Unlu.
The group is collaborating with the Turkish Embassy in Boston to collect donations and transport them to Turkey via Turkish Airlines.
The packages are sent to comfort those who have lost everything and help them rebuild.
“It will be so long. There’s hospitals, schools, everywhere destroyed so we need money we need people.”
In-kind donations can be delivered to the consulate office in Downtown Boston located at 31 Sant James Ave. Suite #840 Boston, MA 02116 between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. Large bulk donations can be delivered to the Freerange Market at 325 Rivers Edge Dr. Medford, MA 02155.
If you are looking to make a donation to help survivors in Turkey, do so cautiously - it is common for scammers to take advantage of major disasters, even as legitimate groups are working to offer emergency aid. For more information on how to make sure your money makes it to the right people, click here.