Calgarians' generosity on display as community raises more than $60K for earthquake victims
The Canadian Turkish Cultural and Islamic Centre says to date Calgarians have given about $60,000 along with mountains of food, clothing and medical supplies to help the survivors of this month's devastating earthquakes in Turkey and parts of Syria.
The organization's spokesperson Sevim Dastan says they are overwhelmed with the generosity of so many different communities.
"We've got the Bosnian community, the Sikh community, the Lebanese community, homeschooling groups, MRU students, everyone's reaching out," Dastan said. "And the moment anyone hears about the fundraiser, everyone's ready to help…[it's] a phenomenal response."
The centre is overseeing a number of donation drives and fundraisers and is working in collaboration with the Turkish consulate of Vancouver.
Business owner and volunteer Moiz Mahmood, who says he has no connections to Turkey, helped organize a donated collection site in northeast Calgary.
He said he approached the owners of an empty warehouse space beside his glass repair shop to see if it was available.
The owners quickly responded and offered it up for free in the short term, Mahmood said.
"Just trying to play a small part in helping people and showing people that once you work together, you band together, and try to get something done, success in most cases is the end result," he said.
Mahmood says they rely on volunteers to greet donors, sort through items and pack the donations into boxes before they are trucked to the west coast and flown to Turkey.
"We're in desperate need of baby items, so diapers, baby food, baby formula, feeders…we're accepting a number of items," said Mahmood.
It's not just the donations that are being provided for free. But the truckers are donating their time and gas to haul the boxes to Vancouver for free. And Turkish Airlines is flying the cargo to Turkey at no cost.
So far two shipments have left Calgary and a third is expected to leave later this week.
Volunteer Elif Orakci, who came to Calgary from Turkey more than 30 years ago, says she's pleased to see so much good come out of such a tragic incident.
"We don't care about what's their religion, what's their nationality, human, that's it, human," said Orakci.
The Canadian Turkish Cultural and Islamic Centre says it will continue to rally for donations as long as they're needed.