Chicago-area Turks organize relief efforts

October 24, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Turkish organizations in the Chicago area are working to send relief to victims in the earthquake area.

About 20,000 people of Turkish descent live in the Chicagoland area. Many Chicagoans are now calling Turkish organizations, offering their sympathy and wanting to help.

"They will be out on the streets because they are going to be afraid to go back to their homes, and you feel that there have been many people who have died," said Mevlut Hilmi Cinar, associate director of the Niagara Foundation.

Cinar says the foundation has a huge influence on the Turkish community throughout the Midwest. He has been receiving calls from the counsel general of Spain in Chicago, members of the Jewish community and many others wanting to donate money to earthquake survivors.

"Even if people just donate $, we try to make people to just feel they could do something for the needy," said Cinar.

Members of the Turkish American Society of Chicago (TASC) and the Turkish American Federation of the Midwest gathered Monday in Mount Prospect at their community and cultural center to brainstorm on how to help the earthquake victims, many of whom are without homes living in temperatures similar to Chicago winters. Rescuers continue to search among collapsed buildings and homes for those who are missing.

TASC, along with other Turkish organizations, hope to raise $50,000 by Friday to send to the distress area.

"We are not only working in Chicago but also in 10 different states in the Midwest," said Suleyman Turhan, president Turkish American Federation of Midwest.

The organization also is available to help anyone who needs to get in touch with a family member from the area.

Female members are planning a bake sale similar to others they have had to raise money for the earthquake victims.

"We are going to come together and make something for those people," said Elcin Keskes, Turkish American Society of Chicago.

Members of the three Turkish organizations ABC7 spoke with said they will continue to raise money for the earthquake victims for as long as it takes.

If you'd like to help, visit or send an e-mail to

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