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Help local tattoo artists rebuild lives in a big way

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Posted at 4:17 PM, Jan 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-02 16:17:53-05

CINCINNATI -- When the tattoo artists at White Whale Tattoo give back this year, they won’t just be sharing their art -- they’ll be offering people a second chance.

A number of workers from the Walnut Hills-based shop are traveling to the Guatemalan district of La Limonada on Jan. 9 to help former gang members get back on their feet.

They’ll be doing this by covering up tattoos for a group of people who are getting out of prisons and into a gang rehab.

"It’s mostly going to be a lot of guys that are in gang rehab that need these cover up tattoos to be able to re-integrate into society," said White Whale Tattoo co-owner Becki Griswold.

Griswold’s husband Jeremiah was a tattoo apprentice in Guatemala nearly a decade ago, she said. He worked in prisons and schools in La Limonada.

"He basically learned that a lot of gang members that were trying to get out of the gangs had tattoos that were basically holding them back, posing as a threat still,” Griswold said. "So covering those up is actually a life-saving move for some people who are trying to get out of the gangs in Guatemala."

It’s a trip the shop wants to take every year, but they need the Tri-State’s help.

A GoFundMe page has been setup to help with costs, but as of Jan. 2, it’s short more than $5,000 of its $16,000 goal.

Along with helping those in the gang rehab, the group will be visiting a local school. The shop is also looking for donations of toothpaste and toothbrushes for the students.

"They do need toothpaste and toothbrushes -- a lot of kids that go to that school, that’s the only times of the day they brush their teeth," Griswold explained. "And to have access to that, it’s really important."

Anyone wishing to make a donation can drop items off at White Whale Tattoo, 650 E. McMillan Street, Cincinnati.