SAN ANTONIO — A Ukrainian bakery in San Antonio helped its country defend against Russia’s invasion.
Laika Cheesecakes & Espresso dedicated all of its previous weekend sales to help the Ukrainian army and their family still living there, and members of the community showed up to help them raise thousands.
The business took to Instagram to announce they raised $72,405.63, which will be going to a fundraising account of the National Bank of Ukraine, and will be used to help the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
They took to social media again on Monday to say that number increased to more than $100,000! The post details how people waited hours to contribute to helping Ukraine.
"As promised all these funds will go towards assisting Ukraine overcome the inhumane Russian invasion and recover from it," the post says.
They also said, "It is really hard to get the exact count but we believe over 3,000 people came during the weekend!! On Sunday the line was around the block before we even opened and wait time was 3 1/2 hours but people still stayed to contribute-even when we had been completely sold out for hours. We sold over 4,500 pieces of cheesecake (jars+ slices). Individual donations excluding the sales were over $25k!"
One of the owners said if they can’t fight—they’ll find any way to help.
Anna Afanasieva, co-owner of Laika Cheesecake & Espresso says she never thought the call for help would reach so many.
“I don’t think San Antonio has seen anything like that before. Honestly, this is like a miracle,” Afanasieva said.
On Thursday, the shop along near the corner of Broadway and Katherine Street in Alamo Heights announced on Facebook the shop’s sales and donations would support the Ukrainian army.
Afanasieva says work in her shop is serving as a distraction to what’s happening in her home country.
“We’re trying to distract ourselves. Whenever we can with work that helps, whenever we are not working we are just watching the news all the time trying to keep up with all the updates. My family’s there and they’re going to stay there till the end and [I’m sure] we’re going to win,” Afanasieva said.
“It’s pretty heartbreaking to watch because, especially being here, I know I can’t really affect the situation. can’t really help myself. If I would be there, I would go and fight with the people, with the civilians of course. But, this is the least we can do,” she said.
The crowd wants to help Anna’s cause.
Since Russia’s invasion began, Vladimir Putin’s declaration of military activity leaves some Russians like Andrey Samodumov, living in the United States feeling helpless.
“All it’s really accomplishing is it’s only hurting my family in Russia and my family in Kyiv, so that’s why I’m very disappointed and I’m very concerned about what’s going to happen next,” Samodumov says he’s regularly keeping in touch with his family still in Ukraine.
Samodumov lives down the street from Laika and was happy to see the line of people from the shop stretch past his driveway.
“It’s just really nice to see people just coming down and supporting somebody miles and miles away on the other continent,” Samodumov said.
San Antonians like Nicole Calvillo feel supporting each other is what the city does best.
“Having a direct connection, I just thought, this is the least I can do right, is go buy some delicious cheesecake, support a local business and hopefully a greater cause,” Calvillo said.
The support makes Afanasieva feel happy to be a part of this community.
“I’m really, really impressed. Now I have basically two homes, Odessa, my native city and San Antonio Texas,” Afanasieva said.
On Friday and Saturday, the owners said they raised $40,000.
The shop said on their Instagram story they sold out of everything they have in the store.
The shop says its donations are being sent through the Come Back Alive foundation, providing funds to Ukraine's military.