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Polish Georgia university professor sells candles to raise funds for helping Ukrainian refugees

She was frustrated that she couldn't help refugees here in the United States

MACON, Ga. — The United Nations Refugee Agency says close to a million people left Ukraine since Russia invaded last week.

 Almost half of the scared, homeless, and traumatized refugees have poured into neighboring Poland.

More than 5,000 miles away, one Mercer Professor, Ania Rynar Zewska, is trying to help.

"I saw my countrymen and women drive to the border to help bring refugees and people into their home," she said. "They shared everything they have, and I'm here watching from afar and there is nothing I can do."

Rynar Zewska is from Poland.

"My entire Facebook is filled with people from Poland and Ukraine," she said tensely.

She did find something to do.

The Mercer marketing professor has a goat farm in Byron and a side business selling soaps and candles and other beauty products.

"Each soap and candle gets a label for Ukrainian refugees," she said while putting labels on the soaps and candles.

Last Sunday, she began donating 60 percent of the proceeds to the Polish Red Cross.

"I've contacted them, actually, and spoke to them and they said all the money is going to go to Ukrainian refugees or those that just crossed the Polish side," she said.

The soaps have a sunflower on the front, which is becoming a global symbol of solidarity, and, ironically, Oliver Farm, the folks who grow sunflowers in Pitts, Georgia, donated 40 pounds of oil.

The candles have meaning, too.

"White tea is very relaxing, but it's not a very relaxing time, but we need a little bit of inner peace," she stated.

For Rynar Zewska, peace is hard to come by she's worried on so many different levels.

"I'm holding on because these are our neighbors we're talking about, because when people need help, people need to be there," she said confidently.

So far, she's raised $1,000.

"At this point, I'm getting orders every hour, which is very unusual for my small business -- I usually get a couple of orders a day," she said with a small grin.

Ukrainians will never know her name, but the professor with the empathetic heart has battled her own fears with a flame of hope for others.

The soap runs $8.50, and the candles are $20.

You can find the products in a couple of stores -- Frankie's Boutique in Macon and the Station in Pitts. Both said they will not take a profit from these sales.

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