From sponsored haircuts to spending chilly hours standing on doorsteps selling homemade hot chocolate to passersby, many children in the UK have been doing everything they can to help young people in Ukraine.
Save the Children said it had seen “unprecedented amounts” raised by children since the start of the war, at an average of £1,400 per young fundraiser – more than treble the typical average total of £400.
Evie and Rowan Lewis, 13 and 11, from Ilminster in Somerset, raised £2,568 for Save the Children’s Ukraine fundraising drive by shaving their heads on Thursday evening.
Rowan was inspired to do something after hearing about the war at school and seeing images online. “I saw the damage a missile attack had done,” he said. “I thought it wasn’t fair on Ukraine and wondered how many people must be injured, and how I could help.”
The siblings discussed various fundraising challenges before Rowan suggested getting out the clippers. But it was Evie who found that her shorn head had unexpected leverage. “Being young and female, people are more likely to ask you about [having a shaved head]which is also a great way to help spread awareness,” she said.
The siblings’ aim was to raise £100. As they saw their JustGiving total soar to 20 times that sum, they realised how powerful children could be.
“I’m still surprised at the impact we’ve made,” Evie said. “Children are definitely more powerful than we’re credited for. I’ve noticed a lot of people have said about how young we are when they hear about what we’re doing – in fact, most people have. Us being young and raising money to help other children who are in need seems to have a very emotional effect on people, and if that isn’t powerful then I’m not sure what is.”
Rowan agreed. “It has made me feel like children can actually make a difference in the world,” he said.
Nine-year-old Ella and five-year-old Leo Ketley raised £1,859 by pledging to walk 43 miles for the children of Ukraine and inspiring friends to undertake their own fundraising walks.
All the children will complete their walks – the distance that some Ukrainian children and their families have walked from Lviv to Poland to seek refuge – in their spare time throughout March.
“I wanted to do something because if I was a child in Ukraine I would be feeling really scared,” Ella said. “I heard on the radio and I saw on Newsround that people had to leave the country, leaving toys and school behind.
“I hope our money helps children have food and water, maybe some toys and books, and I hope that they can live the rest of their lives without worrying a bit and be happy.”
Eight-year-old Zachary Clare raised £500 in 24 hours for the Red Cross DEC appeal for Ukraine last weekend, walking 10 miles from Amersham to Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire.
Seven-year-old Veda Plotkin and her three-year-old brother raised £256 by selling hot chocolate and homemade cookies to passersby from their doorstep in Haringey, north London.
“I felt that if I was in that war I would be really scared and upset, and I would not want that to happen to other children,” Veda said. “I felt like I had to do something for those other children. I was really happy to raise so much money. It made me feel I could be in charge of something. I felt it showed children can take the lead and don’t have to wait for adults.”
Lisa Aubrey, the head of regional fundraising and engagement at Save the Children, said that within the first week of the Ukraine crisis the charity saw a tenfold increase in community fundraising, with at least 21 fundraisers coming directly from children.
“We are so grateful for these amazing young fundraisers and are in awe of their creativity, courage and drive to help other children around the world,” Aubrey said. “We’ve seen children getting more and more imaginative with how they’re raising money.”
She added: “Many people will feel incredibly inspired by the tenacity and enthusiasm of these young fundraisers. We can’t thank them and their families enough for their support. Our ambition to make the world a better place for children around the world simply couldn’t happen without their efforts.”