Inspiring stories of kindness and connection in the midst of a humanitarian crisis
On February 24th, the world turned upside down once again with the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian federation. Beyond the politics of war, there is the everyday reality — the human toll — of war. During times of unrest and violence, the moments of humanity and empathy shine bright to bring a sense of hope and possibility amidst the darkness.
At Nextdoor, we strive to foster a sense of belonging and ensure everyone has a neighborhood they can rely on. To support our Ukrainian neighbors and Ukrainian refugees, we are partnering with humanitarian organizations including the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Red Cross to donate advertising space that promotes Ukrainian relief efforts and an effective disaster response in Nextdoor neighborhoods globally.
Here are a handful of ways neighbors globally are responding to the crisis in Ukraine to provide humanitarian relief and help cultivate a kinder, more peaceful world.
Southern California neighbors rally to welcome Ukrainian refugee children to the community
6-year-old Tomac and 8-year-old Rita had to flee their home in Ukraine when the invasion began. Their mother was able to escape with the children to Poland while their father, a U.S. citizen who moved to Ukraine over a decade ago, decided to stay behind and join the resistance to defend the country that became his home. Since Rita and Tomac have dual citizenship in the U.S., their mother decided it would be safest if the children went to stay with their grandparents in Riverside, CA. So, grandparents Sue and Steve flew to Poland to meet the children, and safely bring them back to the U.S.
Dorrie, a Riverside neighbor and dear friend of the family, heard about the children’s arrival and knew the retired grandparents had already spent a lot on airfare, hotels, and helping out the family. As the children were arriving with nearly no belongings and only the clothes on their backs, Dorrie put out a call for help on Nextdoor to see if her community would be able to donate any essentials. She was shocked to see over 1,000 reactions to the call for help and dozens of neighbors began dropping off clothes, books, toys, backpacks, art supplies, gift cards, and even drawings to welcome the kids to the U.S. and make their transition a bit easier. They ended up receiving more donations than they even needed, and now plan to send any extras to refugee camps to help other Ukrainian children. While Rita and Tomac are still adjusting and don’t quite comprehend the severity of their situation, Dorrie shared, “The outpouring of support for the family and the kids has been overwhelming. The generosity and kindness of the Nextdoor community has brought us all to tears many times.”
A Texas stranger offered refuge at her family home in Romania for a neighbor’s son fleeing Ukraine
Junaid has been studying aerospace engineering at the University of Kyiv in Ukraine for the past six years. When rumblings of a Russian invasion first began, he was hopeful he could remain in the country as he only had one month left until graduation. However, as soon as violence broke out, transportation was largely shut down and his family in Texas was eager to help him flee. Ellen, his step mother, posted her son’s predicament on Nextdoor asking for neighbors to keep Junaid in their thoughts. Instead, her post struck a chord with over 1,200 neighbors who were desperate to find a way to help.
One woman named Anne sent Ellen a private message sharing that she had migrated from Romania to Texas right before the pandemic and still had family who lived on a farm right across the Ukrainian border. Anne also has a son and couldn’t imagine the pain Ellen’s family was going through, so she said if Junaid could make it safely across the border, her family would meet him at the train station, get him to safety, offer him free housing, food, money for flights, and more. Since Junaid’s home country is Jordan, Anne’s family even offered to bring their Jordanian friends to the train station so he could speak Arabic with them and feel a sense of comfort. Ellen was blown away by the offer, and immediately asked Junaid to get on a train to Romania. Fortunately, Junaid was able to make it Romania safely where Anne’s family was waiting to pick him up.
When he arrived in Romania, the government held all passports for security purposes and immediately offered the refugees hotels and flights out of the country. While Junaid never actually got the chance to meet up with Anne’s generous family, they stayed in touch to ensure he arrived safely and could communicate with his loved ones. Junaid decided to fly to Egypt where he would be able to finish his degree and find a job, and shared that the entire community in Egypt has welcomed him with open arms. Back in Texas, Ellen and Anne discovered they live only two miles away from each other and now have plans to meet up — Anne hasn’t had the chance to meet many people since immigrating to the U.S., so she was excited to spark a friendship. Ellen was incredibly inspired by the outpouring of humanity and support for the Ukrainian refugees. From the U.S., to Ukraine, Romania, and Egypt, she shared, “It is like every country is all of a sudden united.”
Canadians serve borscht in the backyard to fundraise and support Ukraine
Like many of the more than 1.4 million people of Ukrainian descent living in Canada, for Jusstyna, a neighbor in Toronto, the crisis in Ukraine hits home. To help, Jusstyna, a local artist, joined forces with her fellow studio mates to invite neighbors over for a cup of traditional Ukrainian, Polish, Russian borscht over a fire in the courtyard behind their art studio. The soup was free of charge and neighbors who were able to were encouraged to donate money made to a foundation for refugees.
To help get the world out, Jusstyna turned to Nextdoor with a post the night before. She was blown away by the turn out and proud to witness the diversity of her neighbors who came — many of whom she previously had not met. People of different ages, cultures, and backgrounds gathered around the fire, sipping their hot borscht and getting to know one another. Not only did this serve as a fundraiser, but it brought people together who are affected by the crisis in Ukraine to share their stories and offer support.
Madrid neighbors mobilize to welcome thousands of refugees
The Spanish Commission for Refugees, a humanitarian nonprofit, is preparing to receive thousands of Ukrainian refugees. Their priority is to ensure the most vulnerable people, such as children and their families, are welcomed to the country and to meet their most urgent and specific needs. The Spanish Commission for Refugees is using Nextdoor to spread the word in Spain and share how neighbors can help. They have received an outpouring of support from neighbors who are offering donations, or even their homes for refugees to stay in. Several others volunteered translation services to be interpreters to welcome the refugees.
A 6-year-old’s toy sale turned into a fundraiser to provide support for Ukrainian Children
Maia, a six-year-old in California, loves to host yard sales and lemonade stands in her neighborhood. She had some toys she was ready to pass on to other children, so she set up a toy drive. Her parents realized the toy drive would be a great opportunity to donate money to support Ukraine, and a chance to softly teach Maia what was happening in the world in a way she understands. Maia felt very bad for the children who had to leave behind their homes, families, and toys and instantly wanted to help — She crafted signs and set up a stand in her front yard. Her father, Charlie, posted a photo on Nextdoor to spread the word about the toy drive and pretty soon neighbors began stopping by. While some bought toys, others simply donated money in support of the cause. After more than five hours fundraising in the neighborhood and a matching donation from her mother’s employer, six-year-old Maia was able to donate over $500 to the UNHCR.
Ukrainian neighbor in London organizes donation drive and delivery to frontline communities
Iryna is a Ukrainian woman living in London who made a post on Nextdoor saying, “I need your help for my country and its brave people.” She posted a list of essential items and asked neighbors for donations that volunteers could deliver to the frontline refugee communities in need. For days, her post garnered attention and support from over a hundred neighbors as people began dropping off supplies.
San Antonio neighbors line up to support a Ukrainian local business
Inna in Texas is originally from Ukraine. Her mom, sister, and relatives still live in the Ukrainian countryside are have remained safe, but her friends in Kyiv and Kharkiv have been spending the nights in bomb shelters and the subway. To encourage her community to support the Ukrainian people, Inna posted on Nextdoor to encourage neighbors to visit Laika Cheesecake & Espresso, a Ukrainian-owned local business that was donating all weekend proceeds to the Ukrainian army. Her post garnered over 100 reactions of support and neighbors were proud to share that the line for Laika was out the door and all the way down the road.
Amsterdam neighbors help mother and daughter Ukrainian refugees
In the Netherlands, Kateryna posted on Nextdoor that her mother and six-year-old sister had fled from Kyiv and arrived in Amsterdam. She reached out to ask for recommendations for local schools and helpful activities that may help her little sister adjust to the transition and recover from the trauma she has experienced. The post received dozens of heartwarming responses with useful information and donations for the little girl. Some neighbors with kids of a similar age offered to organize play dates with Kateryna’s sister to make her feel welcomed to the community.
Ukrainian neighbor in northern California organizes community gathering to “give peace a chance”
To voice his support for Ukraine, Rob was inspired to post a quote from Julian Lennon (John Lennon’s son) on Nextdoor: “Give peace a chance.” A Ukrainian neighbor named Svetlana was moved by Rob’s post and suggested they organize a community event in solidarity. Svetlana moved to the U.S. from Kyiv when she was seven years old and was eager to find a way to help her native country from afar. In less than 48 hours after connecting on Nextdoor, Rob and Svetlana had obtained a permit to organize a peaceful gathering at a local amphitheater. Svetlana created Ukrainian flags, pins, and posters while Rob began inviting neighbors to the event through Nextdoor sharing, “Let’s put all of our differences aside and meet to help the people of Ukraine.” Ultimately, around 200 people showed up including the mayor, city council members, police department, and the local rabbi. Svetlana shared her feelings in a speech: “Standing on the stage and seeing so many people come out to represent Ukraine truly filled my heart with joy. We cannot let evil win. We cannot let greed win. We cannot let hate win. Love defeats hate. Let’s give peace a chance.”
During this global humanitarian crisis, we all must be willing to boldly act to support and uplift one another. A little kindness can go a long way towards making the world a better place.
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