Growing up, Samira Deeb spent summers in Syria, splitting her time between family members who lived in Latakia, a port city on the Mediterranean Sea, and a mountain-region village she prefers remain unnamed out of concern for the safety of relatives who still call the small town home.

Growing up, Samira Deeb spent summers in Syria, splitting her time between family members who lived in Latakia, a port city on the Mediterranean Sea, and a mountain-region village she prefers remain unnamed out of concern for the safety of relatives who still call the small town home.

Deeb last made the trip six years ago, in 2010, less than a year before the Arab Spring, when thousands began protesting the Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad. The conflict quickly escalated, and five years later, the Syrian civil war has evolved into a full-blown humanitarian crisis, claiming more than 470,000 lives, according to a 2016 report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research, while nearly half of the country's pre-war population of 11 million has been displaced. The United Nations currently predicts there could be 4.7 million Syrian refugees by the close of 2016, more than half of whom are under the age of 18.

"This is not just a war. It's much, much darker than that," said Deeb, who was born in Dubai to a Syrian mother and a Palestinian father and immigrated to the United States with her family at age 12, settling in Lake Charles, Louisiana (she moved to Columbus in 2007). "My mother's family has owned that [property] for more than 200 years. It's their land. There are peach trees. There's a water well. To think all of those things could be gone, along with the history and, of course, the lives. My mom and I have talked about that. What if they do occupy the area? We'll never see that peach tree that I'd sit under, or drink that well water that tastes so sweet."

Despite the dangers - ISIS forces have been spotted within 30 minutes of the family home - Deeb's aunts have opted to remain behind, unwilling to uproot the only life they've ever known. "They're like, 'This is our village and this is where we'll die if it needs to be that way,'" Deeb said. Her coastal aunt and uncle, however, have been making efforts to flee Latakia, concerned for the welfare of their three teenage children, in particular their eldest son, who, at age 19, could be conscripted by the al-Assad regime to serve in the military. There's also the constant threat of air strikes, terrorist bombings and abduction - not just by rebel or state forces, but also by desperate civilians hoping to drum up enough ransom money to offset steep cost-of-living increases that have made day-to-day existence a monumental challenge.

"My uncle's house has been robbed. Then they weren't sending their kids to school for a while because of the bombings, and then the Assad regime said if you weren't sending your kids to school it was considered resisting the government," Deeb said. "Food has been a big issue recently. To hear [my uncle] on the phone say that they don't have enough food, so he's going to skip a day so his kids can eat, it breaks my heart."

At times, Deeb feels overwhelmed by the scope of the suffering - "Not being able to do something is almost suffocating," she said. That frustration inspired the Middle East-native and her fiancé Chris Palcsak to spearhead "Columbus to Syria," a benefit concert set to take place at the Summit on Friday, March 25. Proceeds from the show will go directly to Mercy Corps, a global humanitarian aid agency that reaches an estimated 500,000 people per month inside Syria. In addition to performances from EYE, Psychic Wheels, Sega Genocide, Brat Curse, DANA, Bloody Show and Tyrant Manque, Pierogi Mountain will offer a menu inspired by Syrian cuisine.

"When people are reading about [this conflict] in history books it's going to be like, 'What did you do?'" Deeb said. "Did we all just stand around and watch people be killed and watch all these gruesome and dark things as they happened? Or did we do something?"

Increasingly, locals are finding small ways to contribute to the cause rather than standing idle.

In late 2015, musician and promoter Sandeep Sehbi organized and compiled a 90-track benefit album, raising more than $1,000 for London2Calais, a charity that provides food and supplies to migrants living in refugee camps in Calias, France. Then, in February, Paul Nini, a visual communications design professor at Ohio State University, mocked up a T-shirt at the request of graphic design faculty members at a university in Turkey, with the aim of helping refugees identify themselves and locate assistance while crossing the border.

"I have no illusion that the kinds of things designers can do are going to solve [the crisis], but at least it's doing something, and maybe it helps in some small way," said Nini, who has previously lent his design services to causes ranging from sustainability to environmental awareness. "When you work as a designer, often it's commercial or marketing related, which is about selling things to people. At the same time, it's not the only thing design can be. It can be used from an activist stance, and in helping promote issues for social good."

Even Blue Jackets winger Brandon Saad, whose father George emigrated from Syria as a teenager, has recently opened up in interviews, discussing his experience helping relocate family members from Syria to Pittsburgh last summer, where they can be closer to relatives.

"The majority are here and safe; that's the good news," Saad said during a mid-March interview in the Blue Jackets locker room following an early morning skate. "I think in the past I didn't want to get too in depth [talking about Syria], and I still really don't, but more questions are coming … and now that most of them are over here and most of them are safe, I think that if people want to hear the story [of my family], that's great."

While Saad chooses not to wade into the politics of the Syrian crisis - he repeated some variation of "I just focus on hockey," multiple times in conversation - by even broaching the subject, he's helping increase the spotlight on an issue that demands greater public attention.

"People do see him first as a hockey player, and as a part of the central Ohio community, and to recognize there's this important piece of his life that he values and that he shares with the community, it's incredibly powerful," said Karina Harty-Morrison, assistant director of programs for Community Refugee and Immigration Services, or CRIS, one of three organizations providing resettlement services for immigrants relocating to Columbus. "It's recognizing these people are so much like ourselves, and they want the same things. They want safety. They want a good education for their kids. They want to work hard so they can have opportunities for their family. I think that when you open yourself up and learn a little bit more about the individuals and the families we're working with, you can see past all the negative media and the politics that are involved in this and recognize that [refugees] are human beings."

For some, affairs in Syria can feel every bit as far-off as the 6,000-plus mile distance separating the country from Columbus, and the scale of the crisis can make individual efforts feel frustratingly overmatched. Additionally, some, like Psychic Wheels singer and guitarist Spencer Morgan, view current local and national support as severely inadequate considering the scope of the devastation.

"This benefit is nice, but I don't think it's something to pat ourselves on the back for," he said. "Overall, the support in Columbus and the USA is so lacking that it is disgusting."

"A lot of folks see the size of the problem and throw their hands up and say, 'I wish I could help, but I'm only one person,'" said Palcsak, who is hoping to raise a couple thousand dollars with the "Columbus to Syria" benefit. "It's easy to feel powerless, but I thought one thing I could do in my limited capacity was raise a little bit of money and get it to people who need it. I know it's a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things, but if it helps one family with food, water, shelter, education - anything like that - then I think it's worth it."

EYE bassist Michael Sliclen expressed similar sentiments. "It's an immense crisis, but every little bit helps," he said. "If our time onstage can alleviate someone's suffering, it's worth it."

Others working to raise awareness have a more personal attachment to the cause, like Sehbi, whose father lived near the newly formed border with Pakistan during the 1947 Partition of India, an event that forced him to move east, leaving nearly everything he owned behind.

"They had to start over again, and they had to start over with nothing" said Sehbi, who, in addition to the London2Calais compilation (which can be purchased at also spearheaded a now-defunct series of monthly, refugee-themed talks at Campus coffeehouse Kafe Kerouac. "Even now I still really identify with underdog causes. With the concerts I was putting on, I was going to the people I felt had the fewest opportunities. With this, these are the people who have nothing.

"Obviously the scope of the refugees' suffering is just so crazy huge that it dwarfs any of our personal struggles. I'm just one person … and that's always been the dilemma: How do we get more people involved? There are refugees in our midst. It's not just an international problem; it's a Columbus problem."

Since 1983, 16,596 refugees from around the world have resettled in the Columbus metro area, according to a 2015 report by Community Research Partners, a non-profit research, evaluation and data center. In 2015, CRIS resettled 621 individual refugees, a number it expects to reach 790 this year, with a majority coming from Somalia, Nepal and Iraq. To date, the organization has only resettled one Syrian family, but it anticipates that number will climb steeply in the coming years.

"As an agency, we recognize this is the community we'll be resettling in the future - both locally and nationally - and we're preparing," said Harty-Morrison. "We actually had someone offer to donate their home to a Syrian family. I think it's the silver lining in this stream of negative media. We're also seeing the best in people as well."

Though there is a reasoned debate to be had regarding the vetting process for refugees immigrating to the United States, Harty-Morrison noted that sometimes it's the loudest voices that receive the most press, "and those who oppose Syrian refugees, their voices are pretty loud." To combat this effect, she suggested interested individuals advocate for the cause, reaching out to senators and representatives to express support for refugees. Additionally, CRIS coordinates efforts with groups, families and individuals who want to volunteer time locally.

"There are all kinds of ways one could welcome a refugee family: Helping to set up their home, greeting them at the airport, inviting them to your home for dinner, going to the zoo together," Harty-Morrison said. "We also have people who volunteer in our English-language classrooms, and volunteer to teach citizenship. There are all kinds of ways to get engaged. It's about saying yes to the opportunity, recognizing our community is very diverse and vibrant and colorful, and participating in that."

It's a level of engagement Palcsak has embraced as an artist - "Playing in bands, this is what we do," he said - and he's been pleasantly surprised by the outpouring since he first announced the benefit concert in February.

"I'm really fortunate with my group of friends and this community we have here that a lot of folks are very inspired and very socially conscious and very socially active," he said. "Sometimes it can be daunting to take action on things like this, but I think a lot of people are just waiting for that opportunity. The will is there."