SOUTHERN COLORADO — As Russia's invasion continues, Americans have come up with a creative way to get funds directly to Ukrainians — booking airbnbs in Ukraine that they don't intend to use.
The growing trend started a few days ago with people across the country booking stays and sharing social media posts urging others to do the same.
Airbnb says 61,000 nights have been booked in Ukraine, including 34,000 nights by U.S. guests.
"Being compassionate and empathetic, I just really wanted to help. I saw this trending on Instagram, and it was already 48 hours in and the CEO shared they already said they had 61,000 nights booked," said Dusti Bosworth.
She booked a stay in Cherkasy, Ukraine with no intention of going there.
"The super affected areas had already been booked, and so I found a place that was on the east coast that had one of sooner days available," said Bosworth. "How incredible to be able to get these resources directly to the people that are needing them right now."
The small gesture is making a big impact on the hosts whose lives have been upended by war.
"It's really incredible with his country at war, he still responded almost immediately with gratitude, talked about how tears were running down his face, and said something I will never forget, the world will be saved by love," said Bosworth.
Bosworth isn't the only one joining in the grassroots effort to help Ukrainians.
"We'd been doing a lot of research on ways to help, and Laura came across this, as a way for money to go directly from us to them," said Erin O'Connell.
O'Connell and her wife booked a stay in a city away from Russian forces.
"If you put in a search there are a lot of properties that come up but we had to pick a date months in the future. Obviously, this trend is growing, and there are a lot of people supporting them," said O'Connell. "There are so many people who are fleeing the larger cities that the trend is starting to go to rural communities so people can get away from the war-torn areas."
While O'Connell didn't get a response back, she's heard from her friends of hosts grateful for the help.
"People are saying thank you and just understanding that we're trying to help them in any way we can. I think there is a huge appreciation coming from across the world which is huge being able to see that right away," said O'Connell
Airbnb is now waiving fees in the country so all funds go to the hosts.
"I think it's great that it's becoming not only a place that people can go to, but they are also seeking additional help. They are helping with fees, they're promoting it, just getting the word out through their advertising is huge. I think it's important to have these larger companies start a trend on their own and show they also care," said O'Connell.
"You can tell these small acts of kindness from all over the world are giving them hope and a chance to stay afloat," said Bosworth.
Airbnb also has its own initiative to provide housing to those in need. The company will offer short-term housing for free for up to 100,000 of those fleeing Ukraine. People can go to Airbnb.org and sign up to host refugees or donate to the cause.