They don’t plan to check in. (This is how you can help. – GP)
(CNN) — Volodymyr Bondarenko spends most of his day holed up in his apartment in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
Between listening for air-raid sirens and frantically messaging family for updates, he trades messages with a flurry of Airbnb guests booking his one-bedroom rental in the heart of Ukraine’s capital.
Sometimes, he sends a crying emoji. Other times, the praying hands emoji. It’s his way of thanking those who are booking his apartment — even though they have no intention of ever showing up at his door.
Airbnb hosts in Ukraine are being flooded with bookings from people all over the world who have no plans to visit. It’s part of a creative social media campaign to funnel money to besieged Ukrainians who need financial assistance as Russian forces bombard their country and cut off services.
The idea has picked up momentum. On March 2 and March 3, guests from around the world booked more than 61,000 nights in Ukraine, according to an Airbnb spokesperson. More than half of those nights were booked by Americans, the spokesperson said.
CNN spoke to people in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia who’ve booked Ukrainian rentals on Airbnb in recent days.
“More than 10 bookings came in today. This was surprising, it’s very supportive at the moment,” Bondarenko, 36, told CNN early Friday. “I told many of my relatives and friends that I plan to use this money to help our people who need it at this time.”