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Davis, California

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Turkish American Association of California holds candlelight vigil in downtown Davis

In a response to the recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, CalTurks hosts fundraiser and vigil on Feb. 19


By MADELEINE YOUNG — city@theaggie.org


On Feb. 19, the Sacramento chapter of the Turkish American Association of California (CalTurks) held a candlelight vigil and fundraiser in Davis Central Park to mourn and raise funds for the victims of the earthquakes that hit Turkey and Syria that killed more than 40,000 people earlier this month. 

Volunteers and organizers set up tables with Turkish cookies, cakes, art and lemonade as part of a fundraiser to support the victims of the earthquakes. Demet Candas-Green, President of the CalTurk Sacramento chapter, organized the event.

“We’re here to raise funds for the earthquake victims,” Candas-Green said. “We wanted to bring the Turkish community together since Turkish people like to gather and mourn together, so that’s what we’re doing here. Everyone was so eager to come and help bake stuff and make lemonade.” 

After the fundraiser concluded, viewers gathered around candles that were lit in the formation of the crescent moon and star, featured on Turkey’s flag, and the speakers shared their words of condolence. 

Professor, author and founder of the Middle East/South Asia Studies Program at UC Davis Baki Tezcan spoke.

“It’s very difficult to find anything to say really when we are talking about as many people as almost there are in Davis disappearing at once,” Tezcan said. “But it’s so great that so many people showed up here. It’s wonderful to be part of a community like this in Davis.”

Alongside Tezcan, City Councilmember Gloria Partida also shared thoughts on the tragedy and how it affects the Turkish community in Davis. 

“On behalf of the city of Davis, we extend our condolences to your country,” Partida said. “There are many things about the city of Davis that I love and one of those is its great diversity. We have a number of people who come from all over the world and they add so greatly to the fabric of our community and so we know that the people that are here are sharing their lives with us. They have a great deal of their heart in the country they come from, so I understand the deep pain that you are feeling right now and so it is very special for me to be able to share this moment with you as we hold each other and we comfort each other.” 

Melissa Kucukdemirci, a fourth-year psychology major, attended the event after seeing a flier promoting it on campus. 

“I’m Turkish and my family wasn’t affected, but everybody knows somebody who has been affected by the earthquakes,” Kucukdemirci said. “It was so nice seeing everybody come out to support the victims.” 

Partida shared what people in Davis can do to show their support for the affected communities.

“If there’s any way we can assist, we should be sending funds because everybody wants to do something in these moments,” Partida said. “We feel so helpless and we feel like there’s not a lot we can do, but just being here at this moment is a lot. 


Written by: Madeleine Young city@theaggie.org