The Power of the Gift of Giving: How AVSI-USA Friends From Around the World Came Together to Fundraise for Our Partners

The Spring of 2022 will always be a reminder of the darkness of the Ukrainian Crisis, but it will also represent the incredible generosity of our donors. This unexpected wave of contributions taught us that the act of giving transforms us: it fulfills an innate human desire, immerses us in hope, and renews our motivation to love selflessly.


By Cecilia Tresoldi, AVSI-USA  

Washington D.C., July 2022.

The invasion of Ukraine shook us all to the core. Through mass media, we became witnesses of the cruelty of war: the bloodied faces of mothers and children, the heart-breaking goodbyes of families torn apart, the demolition of once-homes, and the parade of Russian tanks entering historic Ukrainian city streets. These scenes convicted us to act. From the first day of the conflict, our inboxes were flooded with donor emails asking: How can I help?

Lucia from Cincinnati shares how many of us felt March of 2022:

“When the war in Ukraine first started, I was in complete shock, not able to stay away from the news, not able to sleep at night. Here in America, we tend to get things a little more “muffled”, safe and sound, as we are in our little comfortable lives. But this event was very real in front of me: the sirens, the kids, the cold. I was changing my kids’ diapers during the day, and my heart and mind were going to those mothers out there, fleeing their homes, their lives in a bag, walking in the winter with their kids. A deep need to help, which kept arising in me the unrelenting question: “What can I do for these people?”

AVSI-USA immediately responded to the Ukrainian Crisis, thanks to the very quick, generous response of our donors.  Our #HelpUkraine fundraising campaign was launched and to this day continues to support our local partners, AVSI Polska in Poland and FDP (Protagoniști în Educație) in Romania. Two organizations, who have provided first response assistance and shelter to Ukrainians refugees from the very beginning. (To learn more about AVSI’s response in Ukraine and neighboring countries, click here.) This work has touched the lives of more than 40 thousand refugees, and also transformed the hearts of all our donors.

colorado Gives Back: Learning AVSI’s Unique Approach

Our donors desired to do more than give a one-time donation, they wanted to share their time and skills and start fundraising campaigns. Soon they also noticed AVSI’s vision was unique compared other humanitarian organizations. Alessandro from Colorado, who felt called to organize a Virtual Chess Tournament, shared his experience fundraising for AVSI-USA. He remembers that during the planning of his fundraiser, he joined a webinar by Guido Calvi, the Head of AVSI’s Emergency Response Team, where he learned more about AVSI’s holistic development approach, humanitarian response centered around the human person; a perspective that moved him to motivate his friends to not only participate, but also to fundraise for an organization making a real difference. The event was an immense success, and he had unexpected participants join, such as his boss and son, and even strangers (now friends), who found out about the event through social media.  One of these new friends “enjoyed the tournament so much that she wants to organize the same initiative in Spain. The same thing happened in Germany, then in the US, and even in Italy… the desire to help others in need is contagious!

Cincinnati Gives Back: Planting Seeds of Hope

Lucia herself was also inspired to act; along with her friend, Margherita, they led a group of crafty Cincinnati women to sell homemade goods. These women offered their own talents- sewing, weaving, ceramics, photography, and baking- to do something concrete for those mothers and children miles away. The act of creating with their own hands made the fundraising even more extraordinary; sure, it was more time-consuming than donating money, but they found that donating a little bit of themselves filled this deep desire to help. Lucia called this joint effort, “a little seed of the hope and peace, we deeply desire for this world.”

Boston Gives Back: Sharing this Gift with the Whole Family

Our friends in Boston not only joined our Ukraine fundraising efforts, but gathered local families to share AVSI’s work. Laura, a long-time friend of AVSI, together with Cinzia and Sharon, organized a coffee and donuts event at their local parish- they sold crafts, decorated traditional Ukrainian Pysanky eggs, and shared our global mission.

What made this event even more special was the inclusion of the whole family, showing everyone, including the little ones- the power of giving.

Cici was one of the kids who presented AVSI’s work, she told us: “Despite being nervous to participate, I am glad I did because I learned a lot about AVSI and myself.” Joseph, another attendee, was touched by the story of “kids in the slums of Nairobi playing soccer with plastic water bottles.” As a soccer player, he felt more eager to help someone with his own interests. Young Stella is another beautiful example, just 10, she was captured by the momentum around the fundraising events, and went on to organize a snack stand with her neighborhood friends. The Boston community was so moved, they expressed a desire to continue finding ways to give back.  

Together We Can Make a Difference

We’ll leave you with Laura’s word, who summarizes the shared experience of our friends across the country:

“To be interested in others is something imprinted in our hearts. And when we discover something beautiful, like the work AVSI does, we want to communicate it, even if we may be scared. In this process, we have fun, we discover and try new things, and we also learn about ourselves. We also receive.”

We are so thankful for the generosity of our donors- our work is made possible only by your support! Visit our website and social channels (links) to get regular updates about our programs.

now is your turn! Join our summer campaign

Are your kids bored? Do you want to instill the gift of giving on your children? Want to learn important fundraising skills?

This is for you! Our Summer Campaign is a Lemon-Aid Stand Extravaganza. We invite all our friends around the world to set up a Lemonade Stand in your neighborhood or even a virtual one (via email or social media).

Sound daunting? We’ve made it incredible easy by providing you with all the tools and materials to make your Lemon-Aid Stand a success. Here are links to our Digital Fundraising Kit and our donation page.  Can’t wait to see how you make your fundraiser extra special! Use the hashtag #LemonAidStands to share your pictures and stories or just email us. 

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