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Mila Kunis raised $37 million for displaced Ukrainian families: 'I'm proud to be from Ukraine.'

She could relate with the horror of the displaced families and decided to do something about it.

Mila Kunis raised $37 million for displaced Ukrainian families: 'I'm proud to be from Ukraine.'
Image Source: Getty Images/Rich Polk

Immigrants have to go through several obstacles when leaving their lives behind and moving to another nation in pursuit of safety. They deal with cultural differences, language barriers and societal prejudices on a day-to-day basis. "That 70's Show" star Mila Kunis knows this struggle all too well as she too was an immigrant before becoming one of Hollywood's top stars. After gaining success in show business, the mother-of-two is now giving back by raising money for Ukrainian refugees. 



 

Kunis was born in Chernivtsi (present-day Ukraine and then-Soviet city) in 1983 where she and her family—some of whom survived the holocaust—saw people pack up and leave because of anti-Semitism, oppression and lack of opportunity. However, her grandfather vehemently resisted moving. That is, until he visited Disneyland.

"His brother had moved to L.A. in the '70s. When my grandfather visited, he took him, and it, of all places, transformed his perspective on the possibilities of the West. He came back to Russia and said, 'We're leaving,'" the actress told PEOPLE.

Kunis moved to Los Angeles in 1991 at the age of 7 when her family got visas as religious refugees and the rest is history. Given her origins, when Russian forces invaded her homeland in February this year, Kunis could empathize with the terror faced by those forced to pack up their entire lives and leave their homes. She was well aware of the anxiety that comes with leaving a place you might never see again and decided to do something to help these families in whatever way she can.



 

She and her husband, Ashton Kutcher, launched Stand With Ukraine, a GoFundMe campaign to support flexport.org and airbnb.org, two groups that provide supplies and short-term lodging to millions of displaced people. So far, they've raised more than $37 million and the campaign is still going on. Kunis went ahead and contributed $3 million herself. She said, "We can't become desensitized. Helping—not even asking, just doing—should be our standard norm."

"When we saw Putin was going after the entire country, we knew a massive crisis was about to ensue," the "Luckiest Girl Alive" star said. "Because I'm from Ukraine, I started getting calls from people who [wanted to help and] thought I knew the politics or had an understanding of NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] on the ground." 



 

The celebrity couple shares two children, Wyatt Isabelle Kutcher and Dimitri Portwood Kutcher. Kunis shared that she makes it a point to educate her children about the ongoing crisis but avoids exposing them to any visuals. She explained, "We just want them to understand the world is bigger than they are."

Moreover, she has always tried to make their children proud of their half-Ukrainian heritage. She said: "I've never been more proud to be from Ukraine. I'm so honored my kids can carry on that heritage. When you're little, all you want to do is assimilate. As horrible as so many things are in the world today, the 'You're different, and that's a cool thing' sense of identity is new. I'm grateful for that." 

Kunis revealed that her children give her hope and strength after having such a difficult year. She explained that children have the "natural ability to provide empathy without having to be taught." She also believes that this "generation of big thinkers" will have a profound impact on the world.

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