SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Skin Deep, a go-to spot in Santa Barbara for unique gifts, jewelry, beauty products and much more, is also a community hub of support during times of disaster and crisis, thanks to sisters and co-owners, Tina Hasche and Nina Meyer.
Meyer said they're now embracing one of their own and rallying support for war-torn Ukraine.
"It's wonderful to donate to great organizations like Direct Relief and Red Cross and other groups," Meyer told News Channel 3-12's Beth Farnsworth. "But this is a way where we can really help a family from Santa Barbara who is struggling to help their family in Poland and Ukraine.
Helen Lash, Skin Deep's Sales Manager, was born in Rivne, Ukraine. She and her family emigrated to Santa Barbara in the Summer of 2005 when she was 5-years-old, joining her grandparents who'd emigrated in the 1990s. Lash said in their older years, they began struggling with health issues.
Now, the family is struggling with the crisis in their homeland.
"It hasn't been easy for sure and um, seeing just my parents so heartbroken, really sleepless nights, always on the phone with our family. The first thing we ask, 'Are you ok? How are the kids? How are the people around and cities?'" said Lash.
Lash said she has roughly 100 relatives living in Western Ukraine including nephews, nieces, cousins and second cousins. She said all are in need at this time and actively trying to escape the war and violence.
She organized a gofundme account, which Skin Deep supports, which reads in part:
"After Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th, many of our family members and friends had to flee from their homes. They drove for many days to reach Poland, and finally when there was no other choice they walked 10 miles with their young children to the border. Some left to different countries leaving everything behind, some stayed to helps as volunteers for the orphanages, etc."
"It's all really heartbreaking, especially for my parents," said Lash. "They want to go as volunteers and help out but, I'm trying to keep them here for now."
Skin Deep is also helping getting word out to customers. Some are making donations while at least one customer dropped off a vase of sunflowers, Ukraine's national flower and a symbol of solidarity.
"This is our way of supporting Helen and her beautiful family and her family now in Poland and other family and friends in Ukraine who are suffering and struggling. So, we're hoping this will be a great help to her and to others and any support our local community can give would be much appreciated," said Meyer.
Lash said she is headed to Sacramento this weekend to help the Ukrainian community there and House of Bread Church with an airlift effort.
"There are a lot of Ukrainian churches in Sacramento and a lot of my friends have already packed boxes of clothing, dry food and they will be sending them out with a plane that they rented out and I want to be part of that as well."
Lash is also trying to raise funds for missionary friends in Odessa, working with an orphanage.
"They're trying to move the kids more safer, either in Ukraine or trying to get them over the border. Definitely, costs will go towards that as well, to help them since they are doing it from just their goodwill."
A question about local Russian residents and whether anyone had reached out to her, personally, brought Lash to tears.
"Um, no not really," said Lash, wiping her eyes. "Even locals I would say that I know from California that are Russian haven't really been reaching out as much. Um, just not really a lot of contact on that end."
"Does that surprise you?" Farnsworth asked.
"A little bit because um, I did meet a lot of Russians and we were always kind of, one. There was never a separation really. So it is kind of surprising to see how people act now, I would say. But, I'm not holding any grudges, I know it's not peoples' fault, it's really the government so, I pray for peace in their hearts as well."