Turkish soccer fans donate toys for kids affected by quake

(NewsNation) — Stuffed animals rained down on a soccer pitch Sunday in Turkey as donations for children who survived a deadly earthquake in the country earlier this month.

Fans of Istanbul soccer team Besiktas threw thousands of the soft toys onto the field during the Turkish Super Lig game that was paused after 4 minutes and 17 seconds, representing the first time the quake struck at 4:17 a.m. local time Feb. 6.

The magnitude 7.8 earthquake devastated parts of southeastern Turkey and northern Syria and led to more than 48,000 deaths in both countries. It also resulted in the collapse or serious damage of 185,000 buildings in Turkey.

“Our fans threw scarves, berets and plush toys on the ground of Vodafone Park to be given as a gift to the children in the earthquake region to cheer them up,” Besiktas said in a club statement.

The team organized the event, called “This toy is my friend,” to provide moral support for children affected by the earthquake, BBC reported.

“There are more important things than football. We are going through difficult times as a country. Together, we will heal the wounds,” defender Tayyib Sanuc said about the game and toy drive.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged $100 million in aid for Turkey during a trip to the country Feb. 19. Blinken took a helicopter tour of the disaster zone.

“This is going to be a long-term effort,” Blinken said at Incirlik Air Base, a joint U.S.-Turkish facility that has coordinated the distribution of disaster aid. “The search and rescue, unfortunately, is coming to an end. The recovery is on, and then there will be a massive rebuilding operation.”

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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