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How to help the people of Ukraine without being scammed

Ukraine refugee
Posted at 5:33 PM, Mar 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-02 18:10:24-05

TAMPA, Fla — It’s easy to feel helpless when you’re nearly 6,000 miles away from what’s happening in Ukraine.

“We can see the pictures and imagine what it’s like, and then we turn off the TV and we go outside and it’s beautiful,” said Major David Swyers, the Tampa Area Commander at Salvation Army. “These people are right there on the front line, they don’t know what today looks like let alone how this thing is gonna play out. What does it look like in a week, what does it look like in a month?”

It’s why so many people feel compelled to help in some sort of way and the Salvation Army in Tampa says cash is best. That’s because they’re stationed in 10 different locations across Ukraine including Kyiv where they’ve got boots on the ground and are purchasing basic necessities.

“You’re buying food, you’re buying water, you’re buying clothes, you’re buying shoes,” said Major Swyers. “You’ve seen the pictures of buildings being destroyed, you’ve seen people being displaced, you see people underneath the subways. That’s where they’re living right now.”

And if Ukrainians seek help in surrounding countries they’re sending essential items to the borders to offer support to refugees.

“Whenever something like this arises we run into areas to see what we can do, because helping humanity is why why we exist,” he said.

They’re certainly not the only group doing what they can to assist. The Red Cross is there too and have boots on the ground. That’s something the Better Business Bureau says you should look out for when giving to an organization — do they have access to the impacted area?

Also, does the charity meet BBB standards and are they experienced in providing emergency relief? They also say local drives that collect physical items and food may not be practical because of logistics and if you see a crowdfunding drive be careful some of those sites don’t vet individuals or organizations very well.

If you'd like to donate to the Salvation army, you can text UKRAINE to 52000 to donate $10. Or you can visit their website or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY to donate another amount.

The BBB has a list of accredited charities here.