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People are creatively using sites like Etsy and Airbnb to get money directly to Ukrainians
Photo by Artem Zhukov on Unsplash; screenshot via @renebelew/Instagram

People are using person-to-person purchases to get money to Ukrainians in the war.

As we watch the war in Ukraine from half a world away, many Americans wonder what they can do to help the Ukrainian people.

There are standard NGOs and nonprofits, such as the Red Cross, Amnesty International and the International Rescue Committee, that are organizing aid to refugees inside and outside the country, of course. But not everyone feels good about putting their donation money into a big, pooled pot. Some people want to know exactly where their money is going and who it is helping.

And some people are figuring out creative ways to do that via person-to-person "gig economy" platforms like Etsy and Airbnb.


Here's how they're doing it:

For one, people are booking Airbnb stays in Ukraine for the coming days, which they obviously won't be using, and telling the hosts to keep the money. When you book an Airbnb you can read the profiles and reviews of the hosts to get a sense of who they are, if they have children, etc. Some people rent out private rooms in their own homes, while others own property that they rent out, but it's easy to see who you are renting from. When you book, you are also directly connected to the host so you can message each other.

The responses from people who have done this are both heartbreaking and beautiful.

@renebelew/Instagram

The Quentin Quarantino Instagram account, which has been used for huge crowdfunding efforts, shared the idea and the responses some followers have gotten from Ukrainians when they've done this. It also shared some tips, such as booking dates that are coming up soon since payments only go through to the host once the booking date arrives.

You can click the right arrow to scroll through all of the the screenshots, but here are a few of them:

Screenshot via quentin.quarantino/Instagram

Worth noting that Airbnb has waived the fees for hosts in Ukraine and its nonprofit arm, Airbnb.org, is coordinating stays for 100,000 Ukrainian refugees.

In addition to Airbnb, people are also using Etsy to give to Ukrainian people directly by buying from Ukrainian sellers. Some people have pointed out that sellers who sell digital files—educational or decorative printables, sewing or knitting patterns, and so on—can benefit from getting sales without having any confusion over whether someone wants something shipped.

Here's how you do it:

1. Go to Esty.com and type “digital files” in the search box

2. Click "All Filters" and scroll down to "Country"

3. Under "Custom," type "Ukraine"

You can use the country filter for any item sold on Etsy, but you do have to put something into the search bar before the filter option shows up. If you place an order for a physical item, just let the seller know upfront that you aren't expecting them to ship anything, you just want to send them some financial and moral support.

This is a good opportunity to personalize your giving in more ways than just a personal message. If you have a crocheting hobby, for instance, you could search "crochet" and then filter for Ukraine to support a fellow crocheter. It might sound silly, but those simple human connections are meaningful, especially when people are facing down inhumanity.

The situation in Ukraine is dire, and while it's important to support large-scale aid programs that have experience with getting people the assistance they need in a crisis, there's more than one way to help. Sometimes putting cash directly into the pockets of people who have just lost their livelihoods to war, who might need funds to get out of the country or to get supplies that help them stay safe can make a significant difference.

The beauty of sites like Airbnb and Etsy is that they allow us to connect with and help people on the ground directly, in a way that reminds all of us of the humanity at the heart of it all.


Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

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