Editor’s Note: We have received a large number of requests from military families asking for ways they can support the people of Ukraine. While Sandboxx News isn’t suggesting all families must help, we want to offer reliable information for those who do.
The war in Ukraine is now two weeks old. Real-time updates of both the horrific images of war, as well as inspiring stories of courage from the Ukrainian people have evoked quite an emotional response worldwide. One would be hard-pressed to find a more clear-cut example of victim against criminal, freedom against oppression, good against evil… on such a large scale in the modern world. At a time like this, many of us feel a call to action but are also left directionless and asking, “What can I do to help Ukraine?”
Some have been so motivated by the conflict and the chance to stand against Vladimir Putin’s naked aggression that they have chosen to take up arms and join Ukrainians in the fight against Russia. There are other important ways we can help Ukraine, though. It is important to remember that every little bit helps. Don’t underestimate the power of enough people taking small steps in the same direction!
Related: A SEAL turned CIA officer’s advice to vets volunteering to fight for Ukraine
Financial assistance is the most obvious way a non-combatant can support a cause, but also potentially the diciest, depending on how important it is to you where that money is headed. Some might offer up some money to help Ukraine for peace of mind and not give it much thought from there, which certainly isn’t a bad thing. Many of us, however, are more invested in our donation’s purpose, allocation, and efficiency or are simply just weary of scams preying on our emotions, to the point it might prevent us from donating altogether.
The sheer number of organizations can be overwhelming in itself. Most are dedicated to providing aid to the over two million Ukrainian refugees that have fled the country to date, including 1.2 million to Poland. The humanitarian crisis dwarfs the evacuation of Afghans from Kabul last August, which was a massive undertaking in its own right. Funding and infrastructure will be critical in the coming months for those fortunate enough to escape Ukraine. There are organizations dedicated to clothing, housing, feeding, and educating refugees. There are charities specifically intended for psychological care for survivors of trauma, some for medical care, some focused exclusively on children, and so on…
Multiple websites provide a comprehensive evaluation and rate charities based on factors like budget allocation, publicly available tax documents, number of board members, potential conflicts of interest, and more. So if all of this has you wondering where to start, here is a list of charities that are safe bets for your donations:
- Doctors Without Borders (aka Médecins Sans Frontières or MSF): The influx of refugees—many of them wounded, malnourished, exhausted or otherwise needing medical attention—poses a staggering health crisis along Ukraine’s borders. MSF has some its staff right in Ukraine trying to provide medical care, even as Russian attacks on civilians and medical facilities continue.
- International Rescue Committee: The IRC has a broad approach and allocates funding to helping refugees in a variety of ways, including medical care, general necessities like sleeping bags and clean water, and financial support. The IRC even provides legal services, which is something often forgotten amid the chaos, but is vital to those fleeing their homes to rebuilding their lives and seeking citizenship elsewhere.
- UNICEF: If these tragic circumstances have you particularly focused on wanting to help the children of Ukraine, UNICEF is the charity for you. Per their mission statement, “UNICEF works in over 190 countries and territories to save children’s lives, to defend their rights, and to help them fulfil their potential, from early childhood through adolescence. And we never give up.”
- Airbnb.org: A bit of an outside-the-box option, as its not a charity, but Airbnb has been extremely charitable in offering short-term housing for up to 100,000 refugees (after housing over 20,000 Afghan refugees last year). They have inspired their own hosts to get involved, and you can help this effort by offering your own Airbnb location or purchasing an Airbnb on a Ukrainian family’s behalf.
There is also a thorough list of charitable organizations available at helpukrainewin.org, including options to donate directly to the Ukrainian National Bank with money earmarked for either humanitarian assistance or even directly dedicated to equipping the Ukrainian armed forces.
As noted by Amiah Taylor of Fortune.com, beware of red flags such as charities claiming you are a past contributor, those that contact you by email, and those asking for financial donations by anything but credit card. Taylor also reminds donors that the IRS accepts donations to verified organizations as being tax-deductible, but not those made to individuals.
Give resources other than money, like time
Of course, there are ways for us to be generous for those either too skeptical or simply unable to contribute monetarily. Another valuable commodity that we can give is our time. Even thousands of miles away, some small American businesses and individuals are dedicating some of their resources to raising money for Ukraine.
From making cookies painted like the Ukrainian flag, to blue and yellow earrings sold on Etsy, these small gestures are about raising money, but also showing support for Ukrainians domestic and abroad, and maintaining awareness of the war. Continued support and visibility of the conflict shouldn’t be discounted for their value, and these are things that even the average person can provide.
Those who signed up to be part of Ukraine’s foreign legion aren’t the only people traveling abroad to get their hands dirty and provide direct assistance to Ukrainians, either. Some private American volunteers have even made their way to Poland and other surrounding nations, not to fight, but offer comfort and aid to those fleeing their homes. While this might seem like one of the best ways one could help in the crisis, those who intend on taking this path should be warned: If you don’t have the needed skills, and can’t feed, clothe and house yourself without draining resources from the relief efforts, you run the risk of doing more harm than good.
Make your voice heard
While the phrase “write your congressperson” can sometimes feel more like a punchline than helpful advice, it really does apply here. Many Americans (or really anyone that lives as a government subject) may be disillusioned or not feel like their voice is heard. Phone calls, emails, Twitter messages, any which way you can contact your representation… can feel like a drop in the ocean. But that’s just it, all those drops do add up and help shift the tide. Congresspeople aren’t always perfectly plugged into exactly what public opinion is, and this is a great way to help them make informed decisions for their constituents.
Another way to support Ukraine that might not be considered seriously (or thought of at all), is attending protests of the invasion. No, this is not likely to change minds in the Kremlin. But what many fail to realize is that such a large element of warfare isn’t about attacking an adversary’s body, but their mind. Russian troops have increased attacks on the civilian population in an apparent attempt to crack the resolve of Ukrainian fighters. Seeing innocent citizens targetted, especially children, can make even the fiercest warrior consider capitulating. The protests, the continued support, the maintained visibility of the war and its horrors, are all things that troops in Ukraine could potentially see, especially in today’s media climate. Even the smallest measures that might boost morale by letting the troops and people of Ukraine know that the world is on their side, should not be discarded as worthy contributions.
Related: Russia cracks down on hundreds of its own citizens protesting invasion
At the risk of sounding self-serving, it is of crucial importance to keep up with what is happening in Ukraine and in the rest of Eastern Europe, as well as keeping others informed as well. Keeping a bright light shining on Vladimir Putin and the Russian military’s actions in Ukraine is vital to ensuring the Ukrainians don’t take up this fight for freedom in vain. Whenever there is a gap in reporting, it creates an opportunity for Moscow to engage in a dizzying round of political spin that paints Russia as the victimized or the righteous.
It brings up the same sticky question of “Who do you trust with your money?” but there are several key outlets with first-hand knowledge of and access to the situation in Ukraine that play a key role in countering Russian disinformation and propaganda. As Russia continues its crackdown on independent media and social media outlets domestically, it will also certainly look to have complete control of the flow of information coming out of Ukraine.
The Kyiv Independent is just one of several outlets with journalists risking their lives to bring first-hand accounts of the war to the rest of the world. A GoFundMe was established for direct support of the Independent, as well as a separate one they’ve promoted that can be reached here, which included the explanation: “This fundraiser is aimed at helping media relocate, set-up back offices and continue their operations from neighboring countries.”
It all matters
The situation in Ukraine is heartbreaking. A nation fighting for its freedom, outnumbered and outgunned by a foe that uses such egregiously brutal tactics leaves observers with a clear protagonist and antagonist. Feelings of sympathy for Ukraine and patriotic pride can give way to frustration that we can’t do more to help Ukraine, especially as the U.S. military cannot get involved due to the volatile geopolitical and nuclear situation. But this is a clear “if everyone chips in” situation. Every contribution to Ukraine, regardless of the form it takes, makes a difference. As long as we keep Ukraine in our thoughts, in the conversation, and in the public view, their fight will continue to have meaning.
Read more from Sandboxx News
- Answers to questions US military parents have about war in Ukraine
- Are we too quick to draw parallels between Ukraine and Taiwan?
- Russia’s focus on perception is costing them the skies over Ukraine
- Optimism about Russian withdrawal from Ukraine should remain cautious
- Meme Fog Of War: Stories out of Ukraine become viral folklore
Feature image: Photo by Alexandra (Nessa) Gnatoush via Flickr
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