December 5, 2014

US, Turkish charities hold blanket drive

In a joint campaign, the Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC), the American Turkish Friendship Association (AFTA) and Embrace Relief held a blanket drive for Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the US on Thursday and collected 25,000 blankets, which will soon be shipped to Turkey.

The drive, which was held last year as well, was also able to raise $100,000 in donations in addition to the 25,000 blankets, a 38 percent increase compared to last year's drive. In recent years the joint campaign has collected more than 40,000 blankets and donations of around $115,000.

“Northern Virginia residents and businesses have once again risen to the challenge to help us provide humanitarian relief to those folks who have fled their homes due to the Civil War in Syria and the violence related to ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] in the region,” said NVRC Executive Director Mark Gibb during the drive on Thursday.

Gibb expressed gratitude for everyone's support, including people at the Paxton and Maersk shipping firms who donated their services to truck and ship the blankets.

As part of the campaign, a website was established,, to help publicize the blanket drive. Reportedly, in a 45-day period the website had more than 8,000 views.

The blankets will be trucked to Norfolk, Virginia, to be loaded on a Maersk freighter, which will depart Norfolk for the port city of Mersin, where the blankets will be offloaded and distributed to refugees in camps and in the community.

This year's blanket drive campaign was co-chaired by Fairfax Board of Supervisors Chairman (BOS) Sharon Bulova, Arlington BOS Chairman Jay Fisette, Prince William BOS Chairman Corey Stewart, Loudoun BOS Chairman Scott York and Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille.

During the drive, Bob Lazaro, director of regional energy planning at the NVRC, on his Twitter account expressed appreciation in Turkish for the efforts of the Turkish aid organization Kimse Yok Mu (Is Anybody There), which helped with the organization of the campaign.

Published on Today's Zaman, 05 December 2014, Friday