ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The death toll has now surpassed 21,000 in Turkey and Syria in the aftermath of that giant 7.8 magnitude earthquake that shook their region Monday. Thousands are still sifting through the rubble as rescue efforts continue, and uncertainly for so many lingers.

Fundraising efforts in our area are continuing as local Turks and Syrians are trying to do whatever they can to get money to loved ones and first responders on the ground.

For one week —this Thursday to next— the team at Master Falafel (519 Monroe Ave.) says all profits are going to help efforts in Syria, and owner Khaled Alkaissi means ALL money. 

“So when I say all profits, that means all the tips, all the profits. Everything,” said Alkaissi.

Like so many Syrians and Turks living in the US, this is deeply personal for Alkaissi.

“I do have friends, they are missing, yes,” he said.

He said so far the response from customers has been tremendous. “I’m sad on the other side — it breaks my heart. But now I feel like I’m doing something,” said Alkaissi.

At ‘As Evi’ Turkish restaurant (315 East Ridge Road), Mahomud Sardar said he’s heartbroken, and doing what he can here in Rochester. 

“So, I’m trying to support them with donations, like with a little money to make them get to the houses (and the people who) are still alive,” said Sardar.

He said the funds raised will go to both Turkey and Syria and go towards critical items. 

“Like clothes, beds, because they lost everything,” he said.

Even in these frantic, uncertain, and depressing times, Alkaissi said doing this fundraising is lifting his spirits. 

“That makes me happy. I love what I’m doing now,” he said.