Families booking Airbnbs in Ukraine to help those caught in conflict

METRO ATLANTA, Ga. — Some metro Atlanta families have found a unique way of getting dollars directly to Ukrainian families: booking vacation rentals.

Normally when you book an Airbnb, you plan on staying there, but that’s not the case for these people. They are booking Airbnbs in Ukraine simply to give people there much needed money.

Channel 2′s Justin Wilfon spoke to some Georgia families who did just that.

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For Melissa Harbers, what’s happening in Ukraine is personal.

Her brother was on a work assignment in Ukraine until just a few weeks before the bombs started falling.

Now she wants to do what she can to help the people still there.

“They’re incredibly grateful. They’re so incredibly humble and grateful. They’re in a place we could never even imagine,” she said.

Harbers is one of thousands of people from across the country booking Airbnbs in Ukraine.

“It’s a viral movement right now,” she said.

They don’t plan on visiting; it’s just a clever way of sending money directly to the people of Ukraine.

“We actually get messages back from the owners of these Airbnbs just incredibly grateful, to feel the kindness halfway across the world,” she said.

Harbers booked an apartment in war-torn Ukraine for a week.

The owner wrote her back, “Thank you. I hope my apartment will remain. Thank you, friend.”

“It brings them hope, and it gives them a reason to get up every single day,” she said.

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At her home in White County in the North Georgia mountains, Anna Viola-Goodman didn’t know how she could help the people of Ukraine from thousands of miles away.

“It felt like I was so helpless,” she said.

Then she heard about people booking Airbnbs, so she booked one in Kyiv.

“My husband was like, ‘We’re going where? Why did you book this?’,” she said.

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Airbnb told Wilfon that Americans have booked more than 34,000 Airbnbs in Ukraine, simply as an act of love. Airbnb said it’s waiving all fees for bookings in Ukraine.

“Just being kind to strangers is enough to change the world,” Harbers said.

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