Soldier against misfortune

Anne Arundel: Businessman makes extra effort to help earthquake victims in his native Turkey.

Bright Lights

October 21, 1999

WRITING A CHECK is one way to help disaster victims. But when an earthquake struck his native Turkey, Huseyin Demiral wanted to do more. He launched a relief effort, gathering food and clothing for survivors. The Glen Burnie businessman deserves the gratitude of Turks and from everyone who appreciates his initiative in a time of dire need.

We are accustomed to established organizations stepping in when disasters disrupt lives around the globe. Organizations marshaling relief for Turkey are listed on the Internet at www.help-turkey.org.

Mr. Demiral could have given to one of these agencies. But the owner of Glen Burnie Mufflers and Brakes decided instead to create a nonprofit organization, gain tax-exempt status and collect donations himself. He got help from fellow businessman Peter Bercik, owner of Kay's Reconditioned Appliances Warehouse, with whom his company shares a parking lot.

Mr. Demiral pays his mechanics to pick up donations when he is contacted. He has amassed more than 1 1/2 trailers of supplies. He has also contacted area hospitals to ask for medical supplies, and is making arrangements to have the military ship all the goods. He undertook this campaign because he recalls the devastation when an earthquake shook his country in 1975 when he was a soldier in the Turkish army. He is in a position now to do more than he could then, he says. His native land is better off for it.

Bright Lights spotlights people who make a difference in the quality of life in this area. It appears periodically in this column.

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