Turkish Student Association Raises More than $5,000 to Support Earthquake Recovery

Near the conclusion of the bake sale, the TSA had raised more than $5,000, with matched donations bringing that sum to $10,000.


Michael McClure

TSA Bakesale in Reynolds Club on Thursday, February 9

By Bianca Jortner

When an earthquake struck Turkey and Syria in the early hours of Monday, February 6, killing upwards of 40,000 people and leaving millions homeless, third-year Ceren Türk knew she wanted to help her loved ones back home. But being thousands of miles away, Türk, the president of UChicago’s Turkish Student Association (TSA), didn’t know how. 

“Some of our friends, families are under the wrecks. My family’s thankfully fine, but our friends from high school, our distant relatives, everyone has just been very negatively affected,” she told The Maroon. “We kind of feel very hopeless because we want to actually do a lot, but there’s very limited things that we can do from here.”

As other members of Turkish student associations around the United States grappled with the same dilemma, they banded together to raise funds for recovery efforts. For UChicago’s TSA, that first fundraising effort took the form of a bake sale held Thursday, February 9, in Reynolds Club.

Near the conclusion of the bake sale, the TSA had raised more than $5,000, with matched donations bringing that sum to $10,000.

Third-year Can Cönger told The Maroon that UChicago’s TSA has around 60 to 70 undergraduate and graduate members. On Thursday, February 9, at least 10 of them were huddled around a plastic table in Reynolds Club selling a variety of homemade Turkish desserts as well as Turkish coffee and typical bake sale sweets. The large turnout for the fundraiser was unexpected, Cönger adds. “Some of our friends went right now to buy more and bake more.” 

 On campus, TSA also hosted a benefit concert on February 12, where undergraduate Ege Atila performed Turkish songs on the piano. All profits will go toward relief efforts. TSA also held another benefit concert on Saturday, February 18 at Rockefeller Chapel.

Fundraising efforts are also being made by other Turkish student associations nationwide, who have collectively raised over $100,000, according to Cönger. The Turkish Consulate General, located in the heart of downtown Chicago, was also collecting clothing items, painkillers, pads, baby diapers, and blankets to donate to victims in Turkey. 

When asked what the community support meant to him, Cönger answered, “We’re happy that somehow we were able to help the efforts [from] abroad, miles away from home.”

The UChicago TSA is accepting donations through their Venmo account @UChicagoTSA.

Michael McClure contributed reporting.