Western Mass. comes together to help those impacted by Turkey, Syria earthquake

Western Mass News and several local businesses came together Wednesday to help collect donations for the thousands of victims struggling in the aftermath.
Published: Feb. 10, 2023 at 9:47 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 16, 2023 at 8:30 AM EST
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(WGGB/WSHM) - Search and rescue operations continue over a week after a devastating earthquake struck Turkey and Syria. Western Mass News and several local businesses came together Wednesday to help collect donations for the thousands of victims struggling in the aftermath.

“There’s just so much going on, it’s just heartbreaking,” said Mary Dionne of Westfield.

Communities, organizations, and businesses across western Massachusetts are rallying together to support Turkey and Syria following a deadly earthquake that struck the two countries overseas last week. On Wednesday, Western Mass News partnered with local businesses to give back to those impacted by the earthquake.

Bella Rome Pizza in Westfield and Northampton Volkswagen were just two of the many local businesses who opened their doors to be a donation drop off location. Many people stopped by to help and some were even moved to tears when we asked why they felt compelled to donate.

“I went through my closet and pulled out everything I could - jackets, coats, blankets, bed coverings, whatever. I can’t believe this is happening to the people there. It just really got my heart,” said Lori Saleem of Shrewsbury.

For Liz Boucher, she said this is also personal for her since she spent time living in Turkey when her husband was stationed there in the military back in the 1970s.

“It affected me because we lived right there in amongst the people. We didn’t live on the base and we met many wonderful people and I know what it’s like out there. These people are struggling. They don’t have a nice middle-class life like we do. It really chokes me up to talk about it. I had to do something,” Boucher said.

Kubran Cayan, co-owner of Bella Rome Pizza and who was born in Turkey, told us the outpouring of support from the community is heartfelt to see.

“When we did hear about the earthquake, it was very devastating for all of us. We have families, we have friends including grandparents, aunts, uncles, everyone is in Turkey…I think it’s amazing that when something like this happens, we can all come together and forget about everything else and become one. It’s amazing that we’ve received so much support. I really honestly did not believe that we would get this much support in the beginning,” Cayan said.

Monetary donations may be made online to UNICEF.

Item donations can be made at the following locations (list current as of February 14, 2023):

  • Northampton Volkswagen, 361 King Street, Northampton
  • Bella Rome Pizza, 57 Southwick Road, Westfield
  • Gary Rome Hyundai, 150 Whiting Farms Road, Holyoke
  • Oscars Pizza, 973 East Street, Ludlow
  • Saray II Restaurant, 1374 Allen Street, Springfield
  • Ahiska Turkish Community Center, 407 Park Street, West Springfield
  • Imam Buhari Mosque, 50 Pinevale Street, Indian Orchard
  • Dalton Pizza, 108 South Street, Dalton

Items being collected (new or like new, where applicable)

  • Blankets
  • Socks
  • Gloves/hats/scarves
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Baby formula
  • Baby diapers
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Over-the-counter pain relief