BOSTON (WHDH) - Many Americans are finding creative ways to support Ukrainians whose home country has turned into a war zone.
This week, Massachusetts native Kathryn Sanfillippo checked into an Airbnb in the Ukraine and next week, she will check into another — all from the comfort of her Boston home.
“I started thinking you know? I wanted to donate to someplace, some organization, but I wanted to do it on a personal level,” she explained.
Sanfilippo is one of thousands of Airbnb customers booking rooms and apartments throughout Ukraine with no intention of staying there. The “Pay Don’t Stay” campaign can get money to besieged Ukrainians quickly — including some who have fled the country.
The campaign was inspired by a now-viral social media post.
“I could see who I’m renting from, they talk about themselves, post pictures of themselves — it was nice. I felt it was a personal connection,” she said. “Not just writing a check to the Red Cross.”
Airbnb is waiving all guest and host fees in Ukraine for the time being so the hundreds of dollars Sanfilippo spent will go solely to the apartment owners.
“By the end of the week, they’ll start to receive the money,” she explained.
The vacation rental company is also collaborating with the United Nations to connect thousands of Ukrainian refugees with free short-term housing in neighboring countries.
A spokesperson for the company told 7NEWS that thousands of hosts are volunteering their properties for free.
“We are so humbled by the inspiring generosity of our community during this moment of crisis,” the spokesperson added.
Despite the language barrier, Sanfilippo wrote to her Airbnb hosts to explain why she was booking and send words of encouragement. So far, she has yet to hear back.
In addition to helping people like Sanfilippo help Ukrainians, Airbnb has also suspended all operations in Russia and Belarus.
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