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Turkey disaster unites campus relief groups with community

By Irene Hsiao
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
October 13, 1999

An earthquake on the other side of the world brought two UA clubs and a humanitarian organization together to deliver a quarter of a million dollars in supplies for relief.

The University of Arizona's Turkish Student Association, a campus Kiwanis group, Circle K International and World Care all contributed to the process of delivering the materials to Turkey last month.

The collaboration started when Circle K International President Harmony Hillard, a psychology and family studies junior, approached Cansu Bulgu, the head of TSA's relief program.

"TSA was set up on the (UA) Mall, and I went over to see in general if they needed my help," Hillard said.

She talked to Bulgu about how her community service group wanted to get involved. Bulgu then went to one of the Circle K International meetings, and the two groups decided to unite their efforts to package the collected items. Meanwhile, World Care chipped in by providing a place for the packaging.

Bulgu said they packaged and boxed hygiene packs, ventilators and medical supplies. There were about 70 students from the UA working on the relief effort, ranging from freshman to the doctorate level, she said.

The 7.4 magnitude earthquake in Turkey happened almost two months ago and killed more than 14,000 people.

Hillard said her organization probably would have collaborated with World Care, but maybe not as soon.

Bulgu, a UA graduate, has since stepped down as head of TSA's relief campaign and has joined World Care as their new director of media and marketing.

Olaf Lieser, research assistant and graduate student in aerospace engineering, is the project supervisor for World Care and Circle K International and will be the connection between the two organizations.

"It's a great thing that two clubs came together," he said.

Lieser, who joined Circle K International this year, said he decided to become the collaborator with World Care after he worked on the Turkey project.

"They collect donations, and we provide the manpower," he said.

He said the next project with World Care is a fund-raiser on the UA campus to help raise money for World Care's finances.

Lieser said he will help World Care with brainstorming and assist in other projects.

"We will do our own events on their behalf," he said.

Lieser said there is significance to the three organizations coming together in a time of disaster.

"It made us see how important our work is... and also how much we can help," he said. "Unfortunately disasters happen whenever, where ever - faster than you think."

Lisa Hopper, president of World Care, said the unification between the campus groups could benefit UA students as well.

"This was a remarkable, collaborative effort," she said. "The kids can learn more about relief work locally, internationally."

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