Turkish Student Association collects donations for earthquake relief

The group will be collecting items and money through next week

BLACKSBURG, Va.The Turkish Student Association at Virginia Tech is trying to do what it can from home to help with disaster efforts thousands of miles away.

Search and rescue efforts continue to find survivors underneath earthquake rubble in Turkey and Syria. As the death toll reaches one of the deadliest disasters in the past decade, hope is not lost for this group of Hokies.

Kenan Aydin got a call from his family after the initial earthquake hit. He said his family was okay and remained in their home as other buildings in nearby areas were now in shambles. Then disaster struck again.

Aydin did not get a hold of his family for hours on end until he got a video call from a friend out in Turkey.

“One of my friends called me, we do video calling and I saw my family. My mom, my father … I was so happy at the time. Also, I just saw our collapsed house. It destroyed my neighborhood,” Aydin said.

Aydin like many other students started asking similar questions.

“I didn’t know what to do. I just said, show me your body … tell me you’re healthy or not. Immediately after that, I started to ask where is my sister. How are my nieces? How are my relatives? How are my cousins,” Aydin said.

Aydin has found a new family with other students in the Turkish Student Association (TSA). After hearing the news of the earthquakes, the group wanted to do whatever they could to help.

Throughout the week students have had stands up across the Virginia Tech campus to help raise awareness, money and other donations.

TSA President, Irem Sen, said the support has been tremendous.

“Honestly it’s been a tragic week for us other than the support we’ve seen. The support has been amazing in our community. The people who have not even met a person from this area before, they’re feeling the empathy, they’re coming in and giving us things they just bought from the store,” Sen said.

Sen’s parents were survivors of a Turkey earthquake in the late 90′s. She said it’s impossible to know what some people are going through right now.

“These people are going to go through things that we can’t even imagine. I heard from people who had been through the previous one that they couldn’t enter buildings, they couldn’t sleep for years. The effects of this are going to continue forever. We cannot begin to understand them but we can begin to try,” Sen said.

Virginia Tech Ph.D. student, Baris Ondes, said watching from afar is what keeps this group going and hopeful to help out.

“You feel like you cannot do anything about them from here. So you feel hopeless maybe but we know there are thousands of people that are working at the collapsed building now. I’m feeling very heartbroken but it’s also what motivates us to come here every day and plan and organize everything here,” Ondes said.

Some students are still waiting on phone calls from their families to see how they’re doing. It doesn’t matter how much destruction there is...just as long as they hear their loved ones are okay.

If you would like to donate, there will still be stands next week around campus at these locations:

  • Graduate Life Center - Main Lobby
  • ACEC at Squires Student Center - Room 140
  • Steger Hall - Main Lobby and 2nd Floor
  • Northern Virginia Center - Room 495 (Falls Church)
  • Virginia Tech Transportation Institute

You can also make monetary donations by visiting this website. Below are some of the donations the group is asking for:

In-kind donations needed for Turkey relief efforts (WSLS)

About the Author:

Connor Dietrich joined the 10 News team in June 2022. Originally from Castle Rock, Colorado, he's ready to step away from the Rockies and step into the Blue Ridge scenery.