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Oregon UPS driver helps deliver earthquake relief supplies to his home country of Turkey

When supply drive volunteers needed to transport tons of donations to Seattle, Murat Yavuz drew upon his strengths and UPS support.

HILLSBORO, Ore. — The images of earthquake damage out of Turkey and Syria are hard for anyone to see, but for Murat Yavuz, they’re especially painful.

“Unfortunately it’s a really, really big disaster,” said Yavuz, who grew up in Antalya, not far from the Turkish earthquake sites.

Yavuz immigrated to the United States 23 years ago and has been a UPS driver since 2009. For him life is good, but in the wake of more than 50,000 deaths, that feels strange.

“Kind of guilty. It's not our fault technically, but how we live here and how they've been struggling, trying to get from under the collapse, you know,” said Yavuz. “Sitting and crying is not a solution, it's not going to help anyone.”

For that reason, Yavuz and others from the Oregon Turkish American Association held a supply drive. Together, they collected 16 pallets of badly needed items; things like hygiene supplies, sleeping bags and tents. They needed to get it all up to Seattle where it could be flown out to Turkey. But how?

“I was thinking, by myself what can I do?” said Yavuz. “So then I think, the best thing I can do is driving, and delivering stuff!”

Yavuz pitched the idea to UPS management including Lyle Arnett, and the Hillsboro Business Manager for UPS supported it.

“That’s what friends do for friends, what family does that for family,” said Arnett. “It's bred in all of us to react like that and whenever somebody's in need that's what we do. [UPS employees] come out of the wood for our friends family and communities.”

On Feb.16, volunteers loaded the UPS truck and Yavuz drove it to Seattle — a trip that would normally carry tens of thousands of dollars in shipping costs, covered by UPS. The shipping company also made a $1 million donation to humanitarian efforts in Turkey.

Within 24 hours, the precious donations were in Seattle and on a Turkish Airlines flight to those who needed them. Over the weekend, volunteers received a thank you video from people in Turkey who received the donations. In the video, a little girl clung to a little stuffed animal. Yavuz said he remembered loading the little toy up along with the rest of the supplies.

“We try to do something but it's not enough you know?” said Yavuz. “Sixteen pallets looks like a lot but how many thousands of people [are in need]? “They need a lot of stuff. More than 16 pallets.”

Yavuz hopes others will consider donating what they can to one of many humanitarian relief efforts happening in Turkey.

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