Utah Jazz to Fund 32,000 Nights of Housing for Ukrainians Fleeing Russian Invasion

The NBA team is helping Airbnb in its efforts to provide short-term housing for Ukrainian refugees who are fleeing Russian forces

Ukraine. Photo: Pavlo Palamarchuk/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

The Utah Jazz is stepping up in a big way for thousands of Ukrainians in need of help.

On Tuesday, the Utah Jazz Foundation announced it will fund 32,000 nights of short-term, free housing for Ukrainian refugees who are fleeing the country after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion into Ukraine on Feb. 24. The foundation is providing a contribution to Airbnb.org, an independent nonprofit that allows Airbnb hosts to temporarily volunteer their homes to people in times of crisis.

"Connection and community have never been more important than it is today," Jazz owner Ryan Smith said in a statement.

"Millions of people have been forced to leave behind their entire lives in Ukraine. Airbnb.org is connecting host families with refugees in need, creating safe havens when so many communities are being torn apart," he added.

More than 2.3 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the war, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency. Thousands of other civilians and soldiers have been killed amid the attacks, CBS News reported.

During their announcement, the Jazz invited fans to join them in making a donation to Airbnb.org or offer a discounted stay to a refugee.

"The Utah Jazz Foundation is honored to partner with Airbnb.org to fund stays for refugees who have fled Ukraine — enough to fill every seat right here in our own house, Vivint Arena, nearly two times over," Smith continued in his statement.

On Wednesday night, the team also invited Utah violinist Gabriel Gordon to perform the Ukrainian national anthem before their game against the Portland Trailblazers.

The NBA only allows the American and Canadian national anthems to be played before games, but made an exception, according to KTVX.

RELATED VIDEO: Jamie Lee Curtis Says It's 'Hard to Watch' Videos From the Children's Hospital in Ukraine

"It's all about my personal mission to be able to show solidarity to other people who are suffering in the world," Gordon said of the moment, according to KSLTV.

"It's part of my personal mission to bring a little bit more peace to the world through my music," he added.

The Russian attack on Ukraine is an evolving story, with information changing quickly. Follow PEOPLE's complete coverage of the war here, including stories from citizens on the ground and ways to help.

Related Articles