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SoCal residents gather donations for people affected by devastating earthquakes in Turkey-Syria

Local communities coming together in effort to send help to those affected by massive earthquake
Local communities coming together in effort to send help to those affected by massive earthquake 03:06

For the last 24 hours, a van and 4 cars have been driving around Orange and Los Angeles Counties gathering donations for people impacted by the massive earthquakes on the Turkey-Syria border.

The Turkish American owners of Bakkalm, a business that delivers ethnic food and ingredients locally, are focusing on doing their part to help those who are suffering. 

This is just one way how many across Southern California are trying to help the thousands of people affected by the destructive earthquake that hit southern Turkey and northern Syria early Monday morning.

"We are so concerned about this situation," said Irvine resident Suha Ari, while he was on the phone with a childhood friend in the disaster zone. 

APTOPIX Syria Turkey Earthquake
People react as they sit on the wreckage of buildings collapsed by an earthquake in Aleppo, Syria, February 7, 2023. Omar Sanadiki/AP

The death toll from the devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake and the ensuing aftershocks soared past 7,000 on Tuesday. Crews have been working painstakingly to reach victims trapped in the rubble.

His childhood friend said families with damaged homes are forced to live outdoors in parks amid freezing conditions. 

"Most of the people don't have cars so they have to go to parks," she said. "In the parks, we don't have tents. We need tents, some warm clothes. We don't even have warm tea to drink. It's a terrible situation."

With many relatives and friends in Turkey, Yasemin Ari, Suha's wife, gathered all of the clothes, shoes and over-the-counter medication she could find into bags, preparing them to be donated to the untold number of people left homeless in the harsh winter conditions. 

Arzu Bulduk, a Turkey native with family still overseas, says that she has received several photos and videos depicting the difficult conditions they're trying to survive in. 

"They're sitting in the car and outside is freezing, like -10 Celsius," she said, noting that they left the city after the first earthquake occurred, ending up in the small village of Akçadağ, where they thought they could be saved before the second tremor hit. 

The dire situation have many other Turkish Americans desperate to get their relatives basic supplies like baby formula and water.

"My heart is very broken because I'm here and I can't do anything," said Los Angeles resident Arzu Kocgirli Bulduk. "Like, I'm trying to buy some tents, blankets and send my husband over there."

Turkey's Vice President Fuat Oktay said that there are 20,000 people taking part in the rescue efforts with many nations from around the world taking part. According to Oktay, rescue teams from 14 countries were already in Turkey and teams from 70 more nations are expected to arrive soon. 

LA County sent a search and rescue team of 81 people, six canines and three structural engineers to help dig through the rubble and find victims. 

If you would like to donate winter clothes, tents, sleeping bags, blankets, flashlights and medicine, see the link below to contribute to Bakkal's donation drive.

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