WNC Locals Respond to Earthquake Victims With Aid - TribPapers

WNC Locals Respond to Earthquake Victims With Aid

Loading a truck in Turkey by the friends of the Togars to help earthquake victims in the South of Turkey and Syria. Photo courtesy of Togar Rugs.

Asheville – On February 6 two horrific earthquakes hit Turkey and Syria, one a 7.8 magnitude followed by a 7.5 magnitude quake nine hours laters. Just this week more fresh earthquakes have hit the area with even more injuries and death taking place. Thousands have been killed, with the number climbing daily, currently exceeding 45,000, and hundreds of thousands injured. Here in Western North Carolina, there are a number of people and organizations that have rallied to send help. Togar Rugs, Hands with Hearts, and Samaritan’s Purse have all sent aid to the earthquake-struck area.

Many people in Western North Carolina know the Togar family, as they have been active in the community. To help the many earthquake victims, they decided to organize food, tents, and supply shipments in Turkey with family members and friends helping. These are being trucked into the devastated area to be distributed. Tents have been set up, and the work is underway. Stoves and chefs are there now, cooking and serving nutritious meals to those in need. With this in mind, a GoFundMe account has been set up. If you wish to donate, you can find this at: https://gofund.me/7f578928. There is no doubt every donation will be most appreciated and will go to those in desperate need of help.

Tunc Togar grew up in Turkey, met Nancy Pomeroy there when he was a tourist guide one year; they fell in love and married.  Their two daughters, Deniz and Darin, grew up in Asheville, attending Carolina Day School and Asheville High School. These days the Togars are continually traveling back and forth to Turkey, as their oldest daughter, Deniz, lives there now with her husband and children. Darin works with her husband, Trevor Astey, in the warehouse at 562 Long Shoals Road in Arden, utilizing the latest technology, promoting sales, and advertising the beautiful hand-made rugs. The Togar family has been in business in this area for many years, with a 12,000-square-foot warehouse filled with rugs that have been imported from Turkey, Iran, and Azerbaijan. They have a cleaning and rug repair service as well. In addition, there is a warehouse in Istanbul where rugs can be stored or left until Tunc comes from the United States to see them. Recently, they opened a store at 2222 Augusta St., Suite 3, in Greenville, S.C.

According to a recent entry on the website, the family says: “Thank you all so much for donating (to this fund)—we have helped send a first truck to Adiyaman and have set up an aid tent in the parking lot of the Dedeman Hotel. We are serving hot food to those who have been displaced and are scared and unable to reenter their homes. We will continue to supply this tent and also send more aid over the next few months. This will be an on-going effort for at least the next year. The area affected is roughly the size of the UK. Thank you again for donating! And please share this GoFundMe on your social media, via email, and with your friends.”

Hearts with Hands

On Valentine’s Day, Hearts with Hands sent out a message seeking volunteers to help pack boxes in their Swannanoa warehouse to be sent to the earthquake-hit area. Alyce Lentz-Sharpton and Mandy Freeman gave the instructions to the group of volunteers. Approximately 400 boxes were easily filled in a very few hours by the approximately 30 volunteers. An assembly line was formed to fill the boxes with two bottles of water, cans of soup, macaroni and cheese, crackers, and other nonperishable items. These were then put on a pallet ready to be shipped out, along with many other pallets of already assembled boxes.

The Heart with Hands warehouse in Swannanoa was filled with helpers packing boxes to go to earthquake victims. Photo courtesy of Dasha Morgan.
The Heart with Hands warehouse in Swannanoa was filled with helpers packing boxes to go to earthquake victims. Photo courtesy of Dasha Morgan.

Prayers were then said for the safety of the traveling team and the victims. An update on the overseas operation was given to the volunteers. A shipment of supplies sent earlier from the warehouse arrived safely in Antakya, Turkey. Dr. Greg Lentz, Hearts with Hands director, had arrived safely with several other team members in Adana, where they met up with Pastor Winston and Andrew Winebarger of Trinity Baptist Church. They are working with several of the local churches in Turkey, which seem extraordinarily grateful for all that is being done to help them.

Ralph Sexton Ministries donated their 37,000-square-foot ministry tent in Western North Carolina to provide aid for those impacted by the February 6 earthquake. The tent departed the Hearts with Hands warehouse and headed for JFK Cargo Terminal for immediate preparation for air freight. Turkish Air donated the space on their 747 cargo plane to fly the tent. The massive tent is now set up and is a center for food, medical assistance, and social services for families who have lost their home or who are reporting a missing relative. To assist in this effort to help those in need, donations can be made online at www.heartswithhands.org/donate or can be mailed to Hearts with Hands, P.O. Box 6444, Asheville, NC 28816.

Samaritan’s Purse*

“The North Carolina-based Samaritan’s Purse deployed a 52-bed emergency field hospital near Antakya in southern Turkey to help fill the void after a major hospital in the region was damaged by the Feb. 6 earthquake. Over 40,000 people were killed, and tens of thousands need medical care. The field hospital is equipped with a pharmacy and two operating rooms and is located in the parking lot of the 1,100-bed hospital that is still in operation after the earthquake. On Monday, Samaritan’s Purse said doctors and nurses had treated dozens of patients in the first hours of the field hospital’s opening. “Our Emergency Field Hospital is now open, and our medical team has already treated earthquake injuries like broken bones, wounds, and infections,” said Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham, the son of the late legendary evangelist Billy Graham.” (*Taken from their website).To learn more about their field hospital and Turkish relief efforts, go to www.samaritanspurse.org.You can donate there as well.

There are many organizations helping the earthquake survivors, but these are three based in Western North Carolina that would be very grateful for your support and any donation you can give, as well as any prayers offered for all those suffering and in need, and for those helping them.