Edmonton restaurant supports senior making handbags for children’s education in Turkey

An Edmonton restaurant has jumped in to support a senior who makes and sells handbags to help children’s education in Turkey.

Eighty-seven-year old Semsi Develioglu started making bags roughly 20 years ago, while also working as a social worker.

After moving to Edmonton in 1999, she has once again picked up her longtime hobby — but this time it has evolved into something more.

With the help of her social media-savvy granddaughter and a desire to raise money to support children’s education, the bags were posted online.

That caught the attention of the owners of Sofra Authentic Turkish Cuisine.

“When we saw that the grandmother was interested in selling bags for her social work in Turkey, obviously that was something we wanted to go ahead and support,” said Chandra Johner, co-owner of Sofra Authentic Turkish Cuisine.

“We called them and they came in and we said, ‘Whatever stock you have left, we’ll buy it all,’ and went ahead and we bought it,” explained Yuksel Gultekin, chef and owner of Sofra Authentic Turkish Cuisine.

It was an easy purchase for someone who once faced similar struggles.

“Myself, I also grew up in poverty, and wasn’t able to have books and when I heard something like that, emotionally I was touched,” Gultekin said.

“I was like, ‘I can’t believe there are people out there that still want to do that,’ so I wanted to help as much as we can.”

They bought out the entire stock consisting of over 20 handbags. With such a positive response and show of support, the family is interested in creating more to sell to the public.

The proceeds from the handbags will go to support groups in Turkey who work with children’s education.

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