By Christopher Gillett
The International Programs Office at Youngstown State University held a donation drive from Feb. 9 to 10 with the Youngstown Chapter of the United American Muslim Association, for victims of an earthquake that shook Turkey and Syria on Feb. 6, along their Southwestern and Northeastern borders respectively.
According to The New York Times, the earthquake is estimated to have killed over 35,000 people in Turkey and over 5,500 people in Syria. With excavations still in progress, the death toll will likely rise. According to Euronews, the earthquake also destroyed several buildings leaving people homeless and exposed to winter weather.
Following the earthquake, the UAMA began organizing donation efforts for the victims through local groups, like the Youngstown Sadabat Education Center, formerly the Youngstown Islamic Center.
Bilal Ezer, an Imam who works at the Youngstown Sadabat Education Center, said one of the hardest things about the donation drive has been making sure the donated items are new and usable.
“The hard part was people want to do a lot of things, but it’s hard to tell everyone what is officially needed. This is winter and we can’t accept everything,” Ezer said.
The Sadabat Education Center began working with the IPO through a student affiliated with both organizations. Afterward, IPO announced its specific drive for the earthquake victims, which coincided with an International Coffee Hour, when many students came to donate items.
Nicholas DuBos, the coordinator of International Student Services, said he was grateful for the success of YSU’s contribution to the donation drive.
“If you look at it — in a one day span — it’s extremely successful. Yesterday we sent [the email] late morning … and we had some clothing given but if you look at it now it’s grown, and I had a feeling it would,” DuBos said. “I’m just so grateful, and this is literally in the span of a little over 24 hours.”
Ezer also said the local drive as a whole has been successful.
“People tried their best, and [just] only in our location we got over 150 boxes, and those boxes are large boxes. These are all new clothes and new shoes,” Ezer said.
The number of donated items by YSU was not measured, but was loaded onto trucks and brought to the Turkish embassy in Washington D.C. along with the other donated articles. They were then flown to Turkey via Turkish Airlines. Some donated items were also shipped to Syria after arriving in Turkey.
While the clothing drive is over, monetary donations are still being accepted. If interested in donating go to the Youngstown Sadabat Education Center website.