An immigrant living in Texas says she was able to raise thousands of dollars for the Ukrainian Armed Forces thanks to sales from her bakery.
Anna Afanasieva spoke to CNN and CBS News and said that she was able to donate more than $100,000 in sales and donations from her bakery to Ukraine's military after people in San Antonio lined up to help.
"This is the least I can do," Afanasieva told CBS News. "I'm not trying to make a hero out of myself either, because the heroes — they are all there and they are fighting."
Afanasieva, 28, emigrated to San Antonio from Ukraine and opened Laika Cheesecakes and Espresso in December 2020. However, three generations of her loved ones are still living in Ukraine.
When Russia invaded her country late last month, Afanasieva was devastated. She says she is still working on getting her family members out of Ukraine.
She told CNN that if she could have it her way, she would take up arms and fight invading Russians on her home soil. But even though that wasn't an option, she decided to use her business to support Ukraine's war effort.
"What else could we do? We are here, not in Ukraine where we can bear arms and go fight the Russians. But we can at least sell cheesecakes and make something good out of it," she told CNN.
So on Feb. 24, Afanasieva wrote on social media that she would be donating the weekend sales from her bakery to support Ukraine's military. While she expected she'd be busy, she had no idea just how ready her community was to help.
When she arrived at the bakery next day, she found people were already lining up to buy a cheesecake. As the day went on, CNN reports that the line swelled to "thousands" people. CBS News reports that people stood in line for "hours" simply to buy a cheesecake or offer a donation.
Afanasieva said that lines at one point stretched "round the block before we even opened" and that wait times totaled up to thee-and-a-half hours.
In a Facebook post on Monday, Afanasieva wrote that sales and donations from that first weekend totaled about $72,000. However, she's since received more donations, bringing the current total to more than $100,000.
She donated the funds to a special account at the National Bank of Ukraine, which is supporting the armed forces.
"It was so heartwarming. We never expected so many people. It felt like all of San Antonio showed up," Afanasieva told CNN. "We were so grateful that so many people cared."