Istanbul Café and Bakery in Denver’s Virginia Vale neighborhood is working with the Turkish Consulate General in Los Angeles to collect donations for the victims of the tragic earthquake that has killed over 20,000 people and left over 75,000 injured on the border of Turkey and Syria.
“It’s a tragedy but we’re trying to do all efforts to show our support,” says manager Wanda Strauss.
The 7.8 magnitude quake has become one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded in Turkish and Syrian history. The earthquake and aftershocks have destroyed thousands of buildings in both countries, leaving residents misplaced and in need of immediate relief. While many organizations are arriving to help victims, people are still in need of emergency assistance. Strauss works alongside coworkers who are from Turkey and who have family there.
“When they first heard about it, they were frantically trying to reach their family members. Cell service was down, phone service was down everywhere in Turkey, but thank God there were still some other services where they were able to call family members here and let them know they were okay.”
She says her coworker is very emotional, but they are trying their best to show their love, support, and understanding for her during this difficult time.
“Thank god her family is well and hopefully they can keep pulling more people alive.”
Families who were not affected are coming together to help those who were injured. Strauss says that her coworker’s family is traveling to the affected areas and taking blankets and giving as much support as they can to help find people.
“It’s unfortunate that tragedy always brings humankind together but I’m glad that they are helping.”
Blankets, jackets, and feminine hygiene products can be seen through the plastic bags at the front of the café. Istanbul Café and Bakery has provided a detailed list of items that are needed on their Instagram page, they have also provided a list of drop off locations in Colorado.
“They need everything, a lot of people are being pulled out in their pajamas and have lost everything all ready, so anything that can help, any backpacks or toilet tissue. All those things we need to send over.”
These donations will make their way to Los Angeles where they will be flown to Turkey and distributed to the people in affected areas. The café wanted to work with an organization that would guarantee the donations would go directly to the people.
“We want to make sure the people actually get it, that’s what’s more important than anything, is to make sure the people get them” Strauss says the Los Angeles Turkish Consulate guarantees that their donations will go directly to the people.
The first pick up for donations is set for this Thursday but the café is planning to keep its doors open for anyone who wishes to donate in the future. Although you can find two Istanbul Café and Bakery locations in Denver the Washington Virginia Vale location is the only location open for donations.
The café is also working with the Turkish American Cultural Society of Colorado by sharing their QR code where you can make cash donations. The funds collected will help first responders meet survivors’ immediate needs for food, fuel, clean water, medicine, and shelter.
For Wanda charity has always been important and she has always partaken in charity work but never at her place of work. She and her coworkers are overwhelmed by the support of customers and by the effort Istanbul Café and Bakery is making to help the victims of this tragedy.
“This is actually amazing because they are making a huge effort to help the people and I really like that, so it makes me proud to work here.”