Menands donation drive sending pallets of boxes to Turkey amid ‘nonstop’ effort

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An empty building in Menands has quickly become the epicenter of a massive local donation drive for people displaced by the earthquake in Turkey. Friday, the space at 100 Broadway was filled with boxes ready to be placed into the care of the Turkish Embassy to sent to people who need it.

“We started collecting donations just three days ago and it’s been nonstop,” said organizer Aleyna Sarap.

The drive runs every day from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. and will continue on the weekend. Organizers are no longer collecting clothing after Friday. A message from the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C. posted to social media said Turkish Missions have received sufficient clothing donations.

The embassy’s list of urgently needed items includes boots, tents, blankets and sleeping bags.

It’s winter in Turkey and Syria right now, and thousands of people are left without a home.

“Every time I’m putting something in my mouth, I keep thinking about the people there. When I have the warm blanket on me, I keep thinking about the people there,” Sarap said.

Since the donation drive started two days ago, the number of dead in Turkey and Syria has doubled.
Thousands of miles away, members of the Muslim Community of Bethlehem are hurting.

“It’s been particularly difficult for the Turkish community, and we have a lot of Turkish people in our community who have been personally affected by it,” said Imam Rafiq Umar.

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The donation drive is a bright spot in the tragedy. Members of several local mosques and the Turkish community have been the driving force behind getting needed items to Turkey. Umar said the response is a reflection of unity.

“Our Prophet he said that the Muslim people, it’s like one body. So when one part of the body is in pain, the rest of the body is in pain. In our book, in the Quran, it says if you save one life, it’s as if you saved all of humanity, and that’s what we live by,” he said.

He said the response to the earthquake has also been one of the biggest examples of unity across faiths locally and worldwide.

“This isn’t just a Muslim problem or a Muslim issue or a Muslim concern. This is a people concern. There are people that are dying. And it’s really warmed my heart to see people from other faiths coming in and supporting and other countries sending aid and sending help. That’s what humanity is all about,” Umar said.

This weekend, many boxes from the Capital Region are expected to be bound for Boston, to the Turkish embassy.

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