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Vancouver Turkish community raises thousands through potluck fundraiser to help earthquake victims

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Hundreds of people visited the Scottish Cultural Centre in Vancouver on Saturday for a potluck fundraiser organized by Fatma Telli.

“People love food and I think that’s what pulls people together,” Telli said.

Funds were being raised to help with relief efforts in Turkiye. Several earthquakes have hit the country and parts of Syria in recent weeks, leaving more than 50,000 people dead and hundreds of thousands homeless.

“We’re halfway around the world and this is what I can do. This is how we can donate,” Telli said, adding that she refuses to feel helpless despite being so far away.

“It’s an emotional time for us too. We want people to be talking to each other rather than sitting at home and mourning,” she said.

Volunteer Mine Dery has family in Turiye. She said some of her distant relatives have died and she lost her childhood home.

“I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach. I’ve been walking with that feeling since it happened,” she said, adding that every little bit of money counts.

“Even $2 will make a difference because it’s a meal for a child,” she said.

Vahit Sametoglu spent hours baking traditional Turkish desserts for the event.

“Even though we are far away from our homeland, we wanted to contribute to the best of our abilities and as much as we can. And this is just one small way of showing our support and appreciation,” he said.

Organizers say the event was a success, having raised more than $5,000.

They plan to hold future fundraisers throughout the Lower Mainland. 

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