RENSSELAER, N.Y. (NEWS10) – With search and recovery efforts ongoing in Turkey and Syria following a devastating earthquake, the local Turkish community is doing what they can to help. The quake, which leveled buildings and other infrastructure, has claimed thousands of lives.

“Life changes suddenly. When you see those pictures, those videos, it is not easy of course,” said Medet Onel, the Executive Director of the Albany Community Center.

Originally from the capital city Ankara, he has friends and relatives near the epicenter in southern Turkey, “Thank God he’s okay. Now, most of them there are living in cars if they have the car. They’re living in the car because all the houses there collapsed.”

Onel says other members of the Albany Community Center have unfortunately lost loved ones, as communication with those on the ground remains difficult.

“Just yesterday, one of our members told us two of their close family members passed away. About, more than 20, of their relatives, they couldn’t hear,” he explained.

In the wake of devastation in their native country, the community center held an hours-long prayer Monday night. Onel is also encouraging members, if able, to donate to Embrace Relief.

Embrace Relief, based in Fairfield, New Jersey, has already raised around $210,000 for victims to this point.

“Many of our donors have families, friends back in there. Some of them lost their lives, some of them cannot reach their families,” the organization’s CEO, Osman Dulgeroglu, said.

The extent of that help has been immediate. Dulgeroglu says the organization has already been able to send a truck full of 21 pallets of cooked food to the impacted area, “If they don’t get the food, they will be sick. It’s already cold, it’s already winter out there.”

Embrace Relief’s CEO says the organization plans on assisting victims with shelter and other necessities in the future.

Assistance for Turkey and Syria has poured in from across the globe. In the United States, nearly 100 Los Angeles County firefighters and engineers are going to Turkey to help with rescue operations.

The death toll from the 7.8 magnitude earthquake continues to climb, with thousands killed to this point.

If you would like to donate to Embrace Relief, you can do so here.