GRAFTON, Ohio — UPDATE: In a post on social media on Thursday, the Turkish Community of Cleveland announced that they are no longer accepting new donations.
"We have been overwhelmed by your support and generosity, " the organization wrote in its post. "We'd like to say a giant THANK YOU to our supporters and our fellow Clevelanders for your incredible kindness during this tragedy."
PREVIOUS STORY: The need in Turkey and Syria after the horrifying 7.8 magnitude earthquake Monday is just as devastating as the event itself. Many are now without homes, family members, and vital resources.
Here in Northeast Ohio, help is on the way.
"I also have a 6-year-old and a two-year-old daughter, and seeing those images and videos of kids getting stuck under the building, it was heartbreaking," Turkish Community of Cleveland President Kamran Askarov said.
The Turkish Community of Cleveland, a nonprofit organization, is collecting clothing over the next two weeks to send to those in need. The effort was organized by the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C. just hours after the earthquake struck. Several similar groups are doing the same nationwide.
"You can see the families that are, like, parents seeing their kids in the rubble, and they are unable to do anything; it makes you feel like you are unable to do anything," TCC Vice President Ravil Lamidze told 3News. "Imagine your kids being in there. There is a saying, 'You cannot feel [an]other person's feelings until you walk in their shoes, and I'm trying to put myself in that position."
There are drop-off sites across the region, but all the donations end up at a central location on Royalton Road in Grafton to be sorted and boxed up. This Friday and next, the donations will be loaded in trucks that will drive to Chicago, and from there, Turkish Airlines will pick up the boxes and bring them overseas for free.
If you cannot donate clothing, you can also send monetary donations. The Turkish Embassy set up a bank account for the Turkish Community of Cleveland to collect those donations for the time being. You can donate through this GoFundMe.
Even after this drive, the Turkish Community of Cleveland expects there to be more need. They even project families could seek refuge here in Northeast Ohio eventually, and the group says they'll be ready to help.
"The thing is, it's not going to stop here," Lamidze said. "After a week or two, once everyone who can be rescued is rescued, there's going to be people, homeless, people without food, without clothes, kids without their parents. We need to help them as well."