QU students are providing relief toward Turkey’s earthquake. Here’s how.

Jacklyn Pellegrino, Copy Editor

The Quinnipiac University Athletics Department launched a fundraiser created by three student athletes from Turkey on Feb. 17 to help support victims of the recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.  

 Volleyball players Damla Gunes, a first-year business major, and Yagmur Gunes, a first-year undecided major, and men’s tennis player Kemal Karagozoglu, a senior international business major, are working with the Student Athlete Advisory Committee on campus.

 Members of the Quinnipiac community can donate to the fundraiser by using the Tiltify link, a digital fundraising platform, throughout the upcoming weeks. There is not a set date when the fundraiser will close.

 All the money raised by the Athletics Department through Tiltify link will be going to rescue.org, which was one of the links included in the initial email that President Judy Olian sent out to the Quinnipiac community on Feb. 10.  

In an email statement to the Chronicle on Feb. 28, Director of International Student Services Sarah Driscoll said there are six students from Turkey currently attending Quinnipiac. There are also other students with Turkish background who have friends and relatives who live there as well as several Turkish faculty and staff at the university.

SAAC has a member from each of the university’s athletics teams who advocate for the student athletes to have a better student experience, said Casey Stark, assistant athletic director of academic support and advisor for SAAC.

According to CBS News, many buildings in Turkey have been built with inadequate materials, such as concrete, so a lot are not able to withstand earthquakes because many of them do not follow “seismic building codes.” Although, it is difficult to combat this problem because of expenses and other challenges in the country. 

 Yagmur Gunes said the athletes wanted to start the fundraiser because the earthquakes destroyed several areas and the recovery process is going to take a long time.

According to World Vision, the Feb. 6 earthquake hit approximately 10 Turkish provinces, including Adana, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaras, Malatya and Sanliurfa, and several Syrian cities such as Aleppo, Latakia, Hama and Idlib.

“We were feeling so bad,” Yagmur Gunes said. “So damaged inside, even though our families are fine. It doesn’t mean that does not affect us, because it’s our country. So, we knew that this healing process is going to be long and our country is going to need as much help as possible.”

 The three student athletes went to Director of Athletics Greg Amodio, their coaches and Stark to see what the athletics department could do for the earthquake victims. Stark connected them with SAAC to try to fundraise and spread the word.

 “I’m super proud of our student athletes, our student leaders, who are heading the charge there,” Stark said. “This has been really grassroots and really about sharing knowledge (about what is) happening internationally, that people aren’t speaking about as much as they could or should.”

 Stark said that the goal for the athletics department fundraiser is currently set to $1,000. Notably, $1 in the U.S. is equivalent to a little under 20 Turkish lira. As of Feb. 28, $825 has been raised.

 “It was all over the news and no one cared,” Damla Gunes said. “So, I was kind of angry and sad and I wanted to…spread the news more and make my voice be heard by the people.”

The SAAC leadership team decided that each sports team will contribute to the fundraiser in a different way such as holding an event or having members of the team contribute individually.

 In addition to the Tiltify link sent out by the athletics department through email and social media, the students raised money separately by tabling in the Carl Hansen Student Center on Feb. 15. All of the money from this fundraiser will be donated to Ahbap, a non-governmental organization in Turkey. There was also a “Pie the Athletes” fundraising event on Feb. 22 where participants could throw pie in the volunteers’ faces after contributing a donation to the relief effort. 

Senior Altug Yilmaz (left), junior Emre Topcu (standing), sophomore Kristin Frengul (middle) and first-year Damla Gunes (right) collected over $1,000 in donations for disaster relief in Turkey on Feb. 15. Photo contributed by (Damla Gunes).

Yagmur Gunes said that they raised a little over $1,000 just from the Student Center tabling on Feb. 15 and that a lot of people came to the table to support them and donated a lot more than she expected.

 “People didn’t know how bad the problem, the situation was, how devastated our country was and a lot of people didn’t even ask me how I was or how my family was doing, even though they’re my friends,” Damla Gunes said. 

 Damla Gunes said that the money from the athletics fundraiser will be given out to affected victims.

“In the first place they are going to provide basic needs either tents, water, food, diapers, blankets, but then they are going to help kids go to school and get a new apartment in different cities,” Damla Gunes said.