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Celebrities lend star power to Ukraine

At last week's Grammy Awards, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a surprise appearance on video. He made a passionate appeal to a roomful of music stars to speak out against the Russian military forces invading his country.

"Fill the silence with your music. Fill it today, to tell our story. Support us in any way you can," the President, a former television actor, said.

Since the war started more than a month ago, many celebrities have been using their star power to help those afflicted by the war.

Here are some famous personalities who are raising funds and spearheading humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.

1. Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively

Ryan Reynolds (left) and Blake Lively attend the premiere of the film The Adam Project, in New York on Feb 28, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

The Hollywood power couple pledged to match up to US$1 million (S$1.4 million) donations made to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' (UNHCR) effort to help displaced Ukrainians.

The target amount was achieved within 48 hours of the announcement made in late February.

Lively, 34, and Reynolds, 45,said in a statement put out by UNHCR: "We're proud to support USA for UNHCR and its work to provide emergency supplies, lifesaving care and hope - but we're even more proud of the generous community of supporters that joined us.

"Thanks to them, families will have support, stability and hope during their darkest moments."

2. Lee Young-Ae

South Korean actress Lee Young-ae is known for starring in popular historical drama Jewel In The Palace (2003). PHOTO: LEEYOUNGAE0824/INSTAGRAM

The 51-year-old South Korean actress donated 100 million won (S$111,430) in support of those affected by the war in Ukraine.

Lee is known for starring in popular historical drama Jewel In The Palace (2003) and crime thriller Sympathy For Lady Vengeance (2005).

The Ukrainian Ambassador- designate to South Korea tweeted a photo of her cheque as well as a letter in which she wrote in Korean: "As a family member of a war veteran, I can certainly sympathise with the horrors of war more than anyone else.

"I hope the war in Ukraine will end soon, and I pray for the well-being and safety of all Ukrainian citizens."

3. Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis

Actors Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis at the Oscars arrivals at the 94th Academy Awards in Hollywood, on March 27, 2022.PHOTO: REUTERS

The Stand With Ukraine online fund-raising campaign started by the celebrity couple has so far amassed more than US$35.7 million, exceeding its initial US$30 million target.

The reel life-to-real life pair, who played a couple in television comedy That '70s Show (1998 to 2006), wrote on their page on crowd-funding platform GoFundMe that the money raised would go to refugee and humanitarian aid efforts in Ukraine.

Kunis, 38, was born in Ukraine and she and Kutcher have a seven year-old daughter and five-year-old son.

In a recent Instagram post thanking donors, they wrote: "While this is far from a solution for the problem, our collective effort will provide a softer landing for so many people as they forge ahead into their future of uncertainty."

4. David and Victoria Beckham

British tabloid The Mirror estimated the couple donated £1 million (S$1.78 million) to Ukraine. PHOTO: DAVID BECKHAM/INSTAGRAM

Last month, British football icon David Beckham, 46, gave the world a first-hand view of what it was like to live in a war-torn city when he handed over his Instagram account to a Ukrainian doctor in the besieged city of Kharkiv.

The doctor showed Beckham's 72 million followers photos and videos that included scenes of pregnant women and those who just gave birth being evacuated, as well as families whose homes have been destroyed.

Beckham, a Unicef (United Nations Children's Fund) ambassador, and his 47-year-old wife, former Spice Girl and fashion designer Victoria, have also made donations to Ukraine.

While the couple did not reveal the amount, British tabloid The Mirror estimated it to be £1 million (S$1.78 million).

5. Bethenny Frankel

American reality television personality and businesswoman Bethenny Frankel raised more than US$100 million for Ukraine. PHOTO: BETHENNY FRANKEL/INSTAGRAM

The American reality television personality recently exceeded her US$100 million fund-raising goal for Ukrainian relief efforts through her charity operation BStrong Foundation.

The charity of the 51-year-old star of The Real Housewives Of New York City (2008 to present) collaborated with non-profit disaster relief outfit Global Empowerment Mission, helping displaced Ukrainians in countries such as Poland and Hungary.

6. Leonardo Dicaprio

Hollywood star Leonardo Dicaprio donated US$10 million to Ukraine. PHOTO: AFP

A report early last month that the Hollywood star donated US$10 million to Ukraine and that his grandmother was born in Odesa, Ukraine, turned out to be fake news.

Still, a source close to the 47-year-old told People magazine that the Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019) actor has donated undisclosed sums to humanitarian groups such as UNHCR and Save The Children, who are helping the Ukrainian people.

The source said: "He had been watching things unfold and wanted to support Ukraine the best he could. He will continue to support the humanitarian groups on the ground which are helping the people of Ukraine."

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