Here is how you can help earthquake victims in Turkey, Syria
New Jersey volunteers are urging the public to donate to help victims of a devastating earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria early Monday, killing at least 3,400 people and toppling thousands of buildings.
For many families in North Jersey, home to large Syrian and Turkish communities, the tragedy hits close to home. They quickly organized fundraising appeals and collection drives to help people who were injured and displaced.
"I woke up in the morning to the bad news of this absolutely devastating earthquake," said Osman Dulgeroglu, CEO of Embrace Relief, a charity based in Fairfield. "It was in a wide area with big cities where a lot of people are living. I have many friends here who have family in Turkey and who lost their homes and their lives."
Embrace Relief is collecting monetary donations to provide supplies including food, tents, blankets and coats, Dulgeroglu said. By 4 p.m., the organization had received about $75,000 in donations, he said.
The relief efforts are especially indispensable for victims of the Syrian war, who have been seeking refuge in the northern parts of Syria and southern parts of Turkey. Swasia, a Wayne nonprofit established in 2012 to help victims of the Syrian war, is now also leading an earthquake relief effort.
“There are a lot of misplaced people who came from all over the country,” said Khaled Yassin, the organization’s office manager. "They were in the process of adjusting to their new circumstances caused by conflict and war and all the bombing. They were seeking a new start in the northern area.”
Many families were already living in tents in the middle of winter with a limited supply of food and clean water and limited medical infrastructure — conditions all made worse by the earthquake, Yassin said.
“Anything could help,” he said. “The people have already been suffering for over a decade.”
Embrace Relief and Swasia have updated their websites and social media with information about relief efforts.
In Carlstadt, Turkish employees of a the PORTX trucking company launched a drive to collect money and supplies that will be sent by air and sea. They are accepting blankets, tents, portable stoves, boots and hand warmers, among other items, said Yükse Ulu, who is helping organize the relief effort.
At the Turkish Cultural Center, outreach director Veysel Ucan was steering callers throughout the day to Embrace Relief. People want to help in any way they can, he said.
Many are also desperate for information about how to reach relatives in affected areas or to get search-and-rescue teams to their families’ homes. They are deeply worried, having seen footage of toppled apartment buildings and rubble, but internet and phone service isn’t working in some areas.
"People are praying and sending and donations. They are following news through social media to see what’s going on," Ucan said.
How to help
Embrace Relief, a nonprofit in Fairfield, is seeking donations to provide supplies to displaced Turks, including blankets, coats, food and tents. www.embracerelief.org
Swasia, a charitable nonprofit based in Wayne, is aiding victims in Northern Syria, including many war refugees who were already living in dire conditions. Emergency response will cover food baskets, cooked meals, blankets, heating supplies, medical consumables and many other necessities. www.swasia.org
Employees at PORTX, Inc., a freight transportation company at 256 Paterson Plank Road in Carlstadt, are collecting supplies at Trailer 4 on weekdays until 5 p.m. They are seeking new blankets, tents, portable stoves, boots and hand warmers, among other items. Call (201) 966-9995 for more information.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Turkey earthquake: How to help victims for New Jersey residents