LA’s Turkish community mobilizes to support earthquake relief efforts

Written by Zeke Reed

Crews from across the world are working around the clock to rescue remaining survivors of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria on Monday morning. Photo by Shutterstock.

Global efforts are underway to support Turkey and Syria following Monday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake. For context, that is 12 times more powerful than the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. It is being called one of the worst natural disasters of the century, and more than 11,000 people have died so far.

Government entities and nonprofit organizations in Los Angeles are among the groups sending aid. LA County Fire Department search and rescue crews are on the ground in Turkey digging through rubble and helping in the international effort to find any remaining survivors. Back in SoCal, the Turkish Consulate and the Association of Turkish Americans of Southern California (ATASC) are coordinating donation efforts to gather money and supplies. 

Nilay Nylund is the former president of ATASC and is currently directing the organization’s aid efforts. She describes the pain her community is experiencing right now, combined with the pressing need to provide support.

“Everything is in shock and disbelief. We never, ever experienced something like [this]. But right now, I think there has been no time for grieving. We are just pushing all our efforts to collect the money and goods donations and send [them] to Turkey.”

In coordination with the local consulate, ATASC is collecting sleeping bags, tents, hand warmers, warm winter clothes, generators, and medical supplies. Donations can be dropped off at the Turkish Consulate at 8500 Wilshire Boulevard. Financial donations can be made at

For Nylund, the speed of the mobilization effort demonstrates how close Southern California’s Turkish community is.

“It's a large community … more than 60,000, maybe under 100,000 … and we are a tight-knit community. Of course, we all have loved ones in Turkey. And the community here is mostly highly educated people. So they're contributing to this community dearly.”

Nylund and her fellow Turkish Americans are deeply connected to both their home and adopted countries. 

“We love getting together … and we are part of this community. We love being [here], especially in Los Angeles.”

Despite the tragedy that struck her home country, Nylund describes how meaningful it has been to see Los Angeles come to Turkey’s aid.

“We are … very emotional right now with the LA firefighters that they deployed to Turkey. It will be in our heart forever.”



  • Nilay Nylund - former president of the Association of Turkish Americans of Southern California