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Men’s Basketball Team Collection Drive for Earthquake Victims a Huge Success

Submitted by on February 13, 2023 – 1:44 pm

Haverhill, MA (February 27, 2023) – The recent earthquake that has affected thousands of citizens of Turkey and Syria has hit home within the Northern Essex Community College men’s basketball team, as three members of the Knights call Turkey their home. Those members are sophomores Metin Yavuz and Mehmet Asik and freshman AtaSavas Kurtulus.

When coach Darren Stratton heard about the devastation, he and NECC Director of Athletics Dan Blair started to look for ways to help the earthquake victims. They soon learned that Free Range Market in Medford was collecting clothing and goods to help the affected countries’ citizens. The Knights partnered with the market and hosted a week-long collection drive on the Haverhill Campus.

five men pose in front of market with bags of donated items

Team delivers donations to Free Range Market

“This has hit home for the entire program, not just the three from Turkey. We want to do our small part to help those back in Turkey and Syria,” commented Stratton.

News of the team’s efforts quickly spread, thanks to coverage in local and statewide media, including Channel 7/WHDH TV and CBS News Boston. And the community rallied, donating hundreds of pounds of clothing, tents, blankets, sleeping bags, thermos bottles, flashlights, and power banks, as well as hygiene products for both men and women, baby formula, and diapers.

After the Knights won their final regular season game, Yavuz, Asik, and Kurtulus, along with Coach Stratton and his son Darren, loaded up a box truck and brought the items from the collection drive to the market.

“All of our team stepped up, and everyone around the area, coaches, and staff members,” said Kurtulus.

“[The earthquake] happened to us; it happened to our country,” Atasavas Kurtulus told WHDH. “But everyone’s acting as it happened to their country too, so that’s a huge thing for us.”

The Knights ended the regular season with a 28-1 record and are currently ranked #3 in the nation in the NJCAA weekly poll. They won their first-round game of the Region 21/East District Tournament and will play in the semi-finals on Saturday, March 4, at 4 pm vs. MassBay at Holyoke Community College.

For additional information on NECC Knights Basketball, contact NECC Director of Athletics Dan Blair or Stratton