Earthquake relief efforts in Minnesota gain momentum

People deliver aid packages
Preston, Connie, Sarah Jacobs, and Judith Wanschura deliver aid packages following a community fundraising effort by the Minnesota Turkish American Association (TAAM) at Medbox Grill in Chanhassen on Feb. 10, 2023, to aid those affected by the big earthquake in Turkey and Syria.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

Turkish American organizations in Minnesota have mobilized to provide aid and relief to victims of the devastating earthquake in Turkey.

People gather aid packages
From left to right, Arzu Logan, Hatice and Cinar Akakin gather aid packages following a community fundraising effort by the Turkish American Association of Minnesota (TAAM) at Med Box Grill in Chanhassen on Friday to aid those affected by the big earthquake in Turkey and Syria.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

The Turkish American Association of Minnesota (TAAM) hosted a donation drive at Med Box Grill in Chanhassen Friday evening. Volunteers collected items such as diapers, pajamas and baby formula.

“Many, many Turkish people I have met in my business, I didn’t even know they lived in Minnesota,” said Semih Ayhan, owner of Med Box. “We thought that would be nice to have an address where people can come and donate whatever they like to donate.”

The need on the ground is great, according to Gokhan Erkutlu with Welthungerhilfe, a relief agency based in Germany. He spoke with MPR News from the devastated city of Antakya.

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“There are all these missionaries and search and rescue teams are working all around the town. But the number of collapsed houses is much more than the available rescue teams,” Erkutlu said. “Therefore, the families, they are standing in front of the collapsed buildings … waiting and desperately looking for some people to help them to find their loved ones.”

Bulldozed over rubble
An aerial view of collapsed buildings in Antakya, southeastern Turkey on Saturday. Rescue teams using thermal cameras to locate signs of life are continuing to pull survivors out of mounds of rubble, five days after a major earthquake struck a sprawling border region of Turkey and Syria.
Bernat Armangue | AP

Back in Chanhassen, those collecting the donations say it helps them do more than just worry about what’s happening in their homeland.

“Doing this, it really helps all of us because then we feel connected and somewhat helping the cause,” said Figen Haugen, who is a member of TAAM. “I'm happy to be able to do this.”

TAAM continues to collect donations toward its earthquake relief effort at

The Turkish American Society of Minnesota, or TASMN, is holding a vigil for the victims of the earthquake Sunday at 2:30 p.m., at 6565 Oakley Dr. NE in Fridley. Organizers say they will offer a moment of silence and hold a brief program to honor the memory of those who have lost their lives. TASMN also is collecting for earthquake relief through its website.