Ukrainian Children Raising Money for Their Families, One Drawing at a Time

"We can spend it for children -- for our living. This is a great help for us right now," said Olena Dudnyk, mother of one of the child artists

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Artwork made by Ukrainian children and sold online is one of the latest forms of fundraising helping Ukrainians, more than 2 milion of whom have evacuated to neighboring nations amid Russia's invasion.

Kids from the country are posting their drawings on the website Etsy, allowing others around the world to buy the art and send money directly to Ukrainian people.

Elya Dudnyk, 9, is one of those artists, producing and selling his art on the online platform for $5 a print.

His art is available on the Etsy store called Woodlexx, managed by his mother Olena Dudnyk.

She says when her son and his 5-year-old cousin Eva learned that other kids were selling their art on Etsy, they wanted to get involved.

"We can spend it for children — for our living. This is a great help for us right now," said Olena over FaceTime.

She, her son and 14 other relatives have fled to a country home after closing their family's woodworking business due to the war.

One of Eva's latest pictures features a peaceful scene with flowers and sunshine.

Elya recently finished a piece that depicts a man standing beneath a Russian plane falling from the sky after being shot down by a Ukrainian tank. The words "no war" are written at the bottom.

"He said this is how he sees our ... Ukrainian win in this war,” said Olena.

Over the call, Elya jumped up to express his pride over raising funds.

"Da," he said.  "Yes, he says he’s proud,” Olena said.

Another mother, Vitaly — whose Etsy store is called HandtoolsDerdel — sells her childrens' art that utilizes patriotic blue and yellow, the colors of the Ukrainian flag.

Going back and forth to the basement under direction of air raid sirens, Olena said the children can keep busy with their art during this time.

“Now they have a contest between each other and they, all the time, [are] asking how much money did they earn — that’s like a little fun for them," she said.

Drawings like Elya's and Eva's are available for purchase through Etsy by downloading a digital copy and printing it at home, meaning sellers don't have to contend with the challenges and logistics of shipping products.

Etsy has also stepped up its specific focus on helping Ukrainians, announcing a couple weeks ago it was cancelling balances owed to Etsy by all sellers in the country, like listing, transaction and advertising fees. CEO Josh Silverman said it included including, Depop and Reverb, and represented about a $4 million investment.

"Being part of a community means that when one part is suffering, the rest of us must step up and offer our support," he said in a blog post on Feb. 28.

Silverman announced in an update on March 9 that the company had created a dedicated curation of digital listings from Ukraine, connecting its users directly with small business sellers in the region. They're also matching employee donations up to $750 to Ukraine.

Due to sanctions and other limitiations, Silverman said, the company would at least temporarily be deactivating all listings from Russia-based sellers.

Olena says she's grateful to all who have given their support to her family and country.

 "We very [much] appreciate that ... thank you, world," said Olena.

Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively and Bethenny Frankel are some celebrities using their resources to help or bring attention to Ukraine.
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