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The owner of a neighborhood Turkish coffee shop is raising money for earthquake victims

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

The suffering caused by the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria is heartbreaking, especially for people around the world with ties to the region who are looking on from afar. In Turkish Coffee Lady, a coffee shop in Alexandria, Va., one woman has converted her business from a cafe celebrating Turkish coffee culture into a donation center for earthquake victims.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: This is chocolate baklava also?

GIZEM SALCIGIL WHITE: That one's chocolate hazelnut.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Can I do one of those and then a coffee?

WHITE: My name is Gizem Salcigil White. I am known as the Turkish Coffee Lady. I've been with the American Turkish Association for more than 10 years. The organizations are very, actually, experienced with this kind of fundraising because Turkey is prone to earthquakes. The Turkish embassy is working tirelessly to receive the in-kind donations and also ship them, you know, every evening with Turkish Airlines to Turkey.

Right now, the winter conditions are dire. It's freezing cold, and people don't have, unfortunately, any food, water. Because they were sleeping during the earthquake, they don't have, you know, anything but sleepwear. So people are just, unfortunately, under the rubble, you know - sorry - freezing to death. So we have, like, you know, people donating toys, baby diapers. We have tents, a couple tents, sleeping bag here. This is more, like, winter clothing, like coats and, you know, pants and all that - very crucial.

It's just we're so grateful, of course, for the response. But, you know, we want to see more from the U.S. I really want people to understand, you know, Turkish people need compassion at this moment. People are devastated. We can't really sleep. I didn't eat since yesterday. I just feel guilty that, you know, those people are suffering there, and we are here. So we're like, what else we can do? What else we can do for these people to build up their lives? We want these people to understand they're not alone.

RASCOE: That was Gizem Salcigil White in her Alexandria, Va., coffee shop called Turkish Coffee Lady. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.