Two students of Harvard University have formulated a website to help thousands of Ukrainian refugees connect with host families that are offering a safe haven in times of war.

Ukraine Take Shelter’ is the brainchild of 19-year-old Avi Schiffmann. The idea struck Schiffmann while attending a pro-Ukraine demonstration in San Diego where hundreds of distressed Ukrainian Americans shared their ordeal and sought help. 

“I remember thinking, ‘I know how to design websites with big platforms,’ so how could I not do anything to help?” Schiffmann told CNN. 

“They need assistance, immediately and on a really big scale, and I had to find a way to make that happen as soon as possible,” he added. 

Schiffmann, a resident of Seattle, reached out to fellow classmate and friend Marco Burstein to start off the initiative.

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The duo spent three days meticulously working on designing and editing the website. 

Launched on March 3, Ukraine Take Shelter witnessed a massive surge in host families offering shelter to Ukrainian refugees. Within a week, over 4,000 people created accommodation listings on the website. 

“For me, I’m behind a computer across the world, which is what I’m good at, but it’s very disconnected sometimes,” Schiffmann said.

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“To see so many people from countries in every corner of the world doing something to help these refugees, who need and deserve safety, is really inspiring,” he added. 

Presently, the website has garnered over one million users and more than 25,000 listings. Schiffmann and Burstein are now attempting to consolidate the website by incorporating listings from big rental platforms such as Airbnb and Vrbo. 

The website has also caught the eye of the Ukrainian government. “Dear Avi Schiffmann, many thanks for your important work,” the Ukrainian government wrote on its official Twitter handle.