Seven Ways to Support Türkiye and Syria

Julie H. Case

Easy ways to begin helping earthquake survivors and the humanitarian aid organizations serving them.

In the early morning of February 6, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Türkiye and Syria. More than 11,000 people have already been reported dead, and the World Health Organization predicts the number of casualties could exceed 20,000. While Team Rubicon has submitted its willingness to send an EMT-1 team to respond, there are many who want to contribute and respond to the extreme need in Türkiye and Syria. Here are some of the most, and least, effective ways to support right now.

Choose Dollars Over Goods

View the scenes of complete devastation from afar after a disaster like the earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria and it feels as if giving anything could help. But in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, responders need to be able to provide survivors with what they truly need, in the moment, not the clothing and supplies others think they’ll need. 

This is why most nonprofits and disaster relief organizations maintain an unrestricted fund, such as Team Rubicon’s Ready Reserve Fund. Because it is not tied to a specific event or crisis, unrestricted funding is the single-most effective way to give: it allows nonprofits to purchase what they—and the survivors—actually need in the moment, even as the situation and resources change.

If You Do Donate Goods, Donate New 

At their best, in-kind donations—goods and services donated in lieu of money—provide a community with supplies that couldn’t be acquired otherwise, and help nonprofits stretch their donor dollars. At their worst, in-kind gifts inundate a community with items that can’t be used or, in the case of food donations, go to rot. While in-kind donations come from a place of compassion and a desire to help from afar, the challenge with unsolicited donated goods is often that what may be essential in the moments after a disaster can become useless or overwhelming just days later. 

In addition to being expensive to ship and sort, certain donations, like clothing, may not even be appropriate for the situation or environment. And used items hold far less value for survivors than new. 

It’s not that donating physical items is forbidden, it’s simply essential that those doing the giving are strategic: When giving in-kind gifts, new beats used every time: Send fresh new socks, not what was sitting on the shelf.

In Türkiye and Syria, Blankets and Tents Will Beat Toys, Food, and Water

It may seem obvious that food and water will be needed but donated food may spoil before arriving in the disaster zone, and pallets of water are bulky, heavy and take up space that could be better used for other things. 

Because the earthquake has destroyed thousands of buildings in Türkiye and Syria, shelter will be one of the greatest needs for tens of thousands of people—possibly hundreds of thousands—in the immediate future. Those who want to send in-kind gifts can donate new blankets, tents, sleeping bags, pocket warmers, winter clothing—such as jackets, gloves, and hats—as well as over-the-counter medication for flu, colds, and pain killers, to the Turkish Embassy and Turkish Consulates across the U.S. by mail or through in-person drop-offs.

Donate Responsibly 

Numerous NGOs and aid agencies are on the ground in Türkiye and Syria helping rescue and serve survivors. Others will begin arriving in the days and weeks to come. (Team Rubicon is currently on the ground in Türkiye assessing how it may best assist.) All of these nonprofits need funding and support. 

Identifying reputable nonprofits involved in the Türkiye and Syria earthquake response to donate to can be tricky. To ensure your donation is effective, see Charity Navigator’s  evolving list of vetted organizations serving Türkiye and Syria.  

Give Unused Airline Miles

As disaster response organizations in the U.S. begin ramping up operations, they’ll increasingly rely on organizations such as Airlink to get them to Türkiye and Syria. Those with miles to spare on Alaska or United Airlines can gift them to Airlink—which has delivered many Greyshirts to past disaster zones—for use by responders. 

Give Local, for Free: Donate Blood

Giving blood is one of the simplest, most evergreen ways to help communities after violent disasters like earthquakes. 

While the American Red Cross has not yet received blood and platelet requests from either Syria or Türkiye, should a specific request come in, it will ship blood products internationally. It never hurts to fill the blood banks so they are available in an emergency anywhere. Donating blood today can help a survivor tomorrow, even across the world. 

Become an (International) Volunteer

The most direct way to help is to volunteer. Join an aid organization providing logistical, medical, or other kinds of support to survivors.

Anyone who wants to serve as a humanitarian aid worker is encouraged to apply to serve internationally with Team Rubicon, now. 

Those who want to respond to disasters at home can sign up to volunteer with Team Rubicon here.

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