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Connecticut groups work to help victims of the Turkey-Syria earthquake

Volunteers at the Diyanet Mosque in New Haven load boxes of donated for victims of the recent earthquakes in Syria and Turkey that have killed more than 21,000.
Mark Mirko
/
Connecticut Public
Volunteers at the Diyanet Mosque of New Haven load boxes of donated items for victims of the recent earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria, killing more than 21,000 people.

Search and rescue efforts continue after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake devastated southeastern Turkey and northern Syria early on Feb. 6, killing more than 21,000 people and injuring thousands. This earthquake is on record as one of the deadliest natural disasters in more than a decade.

Nonprofit organizations and mosques across Connecticut, which resettled 150 Syrian refugees in 2016 and is home to a large Turkish community, have been busy in their efforts to send supplies to survivors and victims of the earthquake.

Since Day 1, Haydar Elevli, a volunteer at the Diyanet Mosque of New Haven, has helped organize donations that are headed to Turkey and Syria. Donations have ranged from blankets, sleeping bags, baby clothes and diapers to men’s shoes, women’s dresses and coats. “We send everything we can,” Elevli said.

Donated containers of infant formula, bottles and flatware are packed in a box at The Diyanet Mosque in New Haven where volunteers are collecting and shipping items for victims of the earthquake overseas in Syria and Turkey.
Mark Mirko
/
Connecticut Public
Donated containers of infant formula, bottles and flatware are packed in a box at the Diyanet Mosque of New Haven, where volunteers are collecting and shipping items for victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria.

Volunteers at the mosque help sort clothing and supplies because when the packages get to the scene, no one has time to separate the donations. In Turkey and Syria, they’re in crisis mode.

Turkish Airlines has volunteered to send packages overnight every day. According to Elevli, the mosque takes donations to the consulate in Boston, which gives them to Turkish Airlines. “It doesn’t cost anything for us right now,” he added.

New clothes, blankets and monetary donations are what is most needed in Turkey and Syria right now, according to Elevli. The Diyanet Mosque of New Haven is still accepting items at 531 Middletown Ave.

In Stamford,Americares, a nonprofit dedicated to health-focused relief, is sending medical supplies to southern Turkey, along with a team of four Americares staffers, three of which are emergency responders trained in general emergency response and one who is a mental health professional.

Volunteers at the Diyanet Mosque in New Haven sort through donated clothing and supplies for victims of the recent earthquakes in Syria and Turkey that have killed more than 21,000.
Mark Mirko
/
Connecticut Public
Volunteers at the Diyanet Mosque of New Haven sort through donated clothing and supplies for victims of the recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria that has killed more than 21,000.

“It’s definitely an all-hands-on-deck moment when disasters like this happen, so we work from our Connecticut headquarters office and really support the team that’s there on the ground. We’ve been sending medicine and medical supplies,” said Dr. Julie Varughese, chief medical officer of Americares. “We really need to highlight the need for ongoing health support. It’s gonna take months and years to really build back following such devastating damage.”

When it comes to making financial donations, there are still people who try to benefit from the loss of others, especially during natural disasters. The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection is warning those who wish to donate to the earthquake relief efforts about charity scams.

“This always creates a crime opportunity for scammers to try to impersonate legitimate organizations and try to take advantage of people’s goodwill,” said Kaitlyn Krasselt, director of communications for the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection.

“We always like to remind people that whenever there’s an event like this tragedy in Turkey and Syria to do their research prior to donating to make sure they’re not being taken advantage of.”

For example, all charities soliciting in the state of Connecticut must be registered with the Department of Consumer Protection.

“If you feel like you’re being pressured to donate, that’s a red flag for a scam. Any legitimate organization will provide all the credentials and information that you ask them for, and they should be forthright in telling you what the money will be used for … They won’t pressure you to give immediately,” Krasselt added.

Volunteers at the Diyanet Mosque in New Haven load boxes of donated for victims of the recent earthquakes in Syria and Turkey that have killed more than 21,000.
Mark Mirko
/
Connecticut Public
Volunteers at the Diyanet Mosque of New Haven load boxes of donated for victims of the recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria that has killed more than 21,000.

Lesley Cosme Torres is an Education Reporter at Connecticut Public. She reports on education inequities across the state and also focuses on Connecticut's Hispanic and Latino residents, with a particular focus on the Puerto Rican community. Her coverage spans from LGBTQ+ discrimination in K-12 schools, book ban attempts across CT, student mental health concerns, and more. She reports out of Fairfield county and Hartford.

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