WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) – The death toll from the earthquakes that hit Turkey and Syria passed 35,000 this week as survivors continue to be pulled from the rubble.
Now Williamsburg businesses are teaming up to do their part to help people impacted overseas.
The owners of Olde Towne Pizza & Pasta in Williamsburg are spearheading this effort, looking to collect everything from diapers to clothing of all sizes to send in a large shipping container from Norfolk to the Mardin, Turkey Port.
Baki Oncu grew up in Turkey and says it’s heartbreaking to see the devastation coming from his home country.
His family is okay, but some of his former employees and friends have lost family members.
“Some of them lost their mom, dad, brother, sister,” said Oncu. “It’s heartbreaking.”
Nearby Retro’s Good Eats Owner, Ihsan Korkmaz, is also from Turkey, about eight hours from where Baki grew up.
Korkmaz says he immediately called his mom to make sure she was okay.
“It’s hard to get in because no service, but when you get them you want to cry,” said Korkmaz.
The two came together to do what they can to help.
They aren’t collecting money or food, just items to send in a large shipping container to help recoup what was lost.
Oncu says this region has a lot of large families with multiple children.
“We have 10 big cities collapsed,” said Oncu. “Most of the kids need more belongings.”
Ihsan says it’s really cold in the region where the earthquakes hit and millions of people are now homeless.
“Everyone has extra stuff they don’t use so you might as well help them out,” said Ihsan. “It just comes to you naturally you want to help.”
Donations are being collected at Olde Towne Pizza and Pasta, Sal’s By Victor, Fat Tuna, Rocco’s Smokehouse, New York Deli, Astronomical Pancake House, Antonio’s Ristorante, Retro’s Good Eats and more.
The shipping container will take 26 days to get from Virginia to Turkey.
Donations will be collected until 2/24, but organizers say the deadline could be extended based on need.