NYPD officers with ties to Turkey and Syria are gathering necessities that will be shipped to those displaced by the catastrophic earthquakes last month, amNewYork Metro has learned.
Over 50,000 people have lost their lives and millions are now homeless after two earthquakes bombarded southern Turkey and northern Syria on Feb. 6. The devastation has left the world in shock and promoted many to get involved through donations, including the New York Police Department.
The NYPD barrier section—a Long Island City warehouse that stores barriers used in parades and other events—is now also playing home to a relief effort spearheaded by the Middle Eastern & Turkic Society (MTS) and Muslim Officers Society. Working in conjunction with the Community Affairs division, NYPD officers, cadets, and other volunteers are sorting through clothing, food, and other necessities that will be shipped to Turkey and Syria in order to aid with humanitarian efforts.
Detective Ugur Bek of the NYPD Middle East & Turkic Society told amNewYork Metro on March 8 that the clothing drive came about after officers’ loved ones who lived in the ravaged regions lost their lives, while others were displaced.
“I actually have family that was in one of the impacted zones. Thank God everybody survived but they were all displaced. For a few days I couldn’t get in contact with them, it was very worrisome,” Bek said. “Two of the other members that are assigned with us actually lost family members. So, it is just a big collective that we wanted to start. Some people lost their homes and belongings, others lost everything.”
The initiative began on Feb. 15 and saw officers gather donations from the public, including churches and mosques throughout the city. According to Detective Bek, the NYPD would create a drop-off point for items before scheduling pick-ups. The officers are now knee-deep in the labor-intensive work of sorting through every donation and placing them in boxes ready to be flown or shipped out early next week. Bek also added that the team is in close contact with the Turkish Consulate General in terms of making sure the relief effort reaches its destination.
“It’s been very devastating and hopefully the country will recover. It’s going to take a while, if I am not mistaken it is of the biggest earthquakes in history books,” Bek said, lamenting the high death toll.
Mayor Eric Adams also recognized the effort by visiting the packing site on Tuesday afternoon. The mayor toured the process and thanked the officers for the initiative.
“Both Syria and Turkey are experiencing this terrible tragedy, and I am just so pleased with the men and women of the New York City Police Department and, you know, we even have some of our cadets who are here. You don’t see what they’re doing beyond the call of duty. Yes, they put on a bulletproof vest and protect us from those who are wanting to bring violence in the city, but during their off-duty hours and other times, they’re out just helping people,” Mayor Adams said.
Detective Bek also revealed that the team is accepting donations through Venmo and Zelle that will be used to help make prefabricated homes. Donations can be sent through Zelle at [email protected] and Venmo at NYPDMOS.