The city of Lublin in Poland was in a deep off-season lull last month when Russia invaded neighboring Ukraine, sending tens of thousands of people fleeing across the country's eastern border.

Suddenly, rooms filled up at hotels as busloads of bleary-eyed refugees arrived in the town looking for food and shelter.

Local travel workers and companies in Lublin are working together to make sure that every refugee is provided with decent living conditions when they arrive. Bus companies are giving out free rides, hotels are giving out temporary free housing, and workers are rounding up basic necessities for refugees who often had to leave everything behind.

Their efforts are part of a huge grassroots movement across Poland and beyond, as individuals and businesses scramble to raise funds, collect donations and volunteer their time to aid Ukrainians who have fled Russia's invasion of their country.

We have a whole army here, a network of hotel connections that works as a crisis team 24 hours a day, communicating fast with each other to check the availability of rooms and send Ukrainians to one another. Arche Hotels, a Polish hotel chain, has pledged more than $1 million to provide free temporary housing for Ukrainian refugees across its 16 locations in Poland.

Such help requires a lot of money, but these are special situations. She said that she hoped the war wouldn't spill over to Poland.

Anna Kurkowska, a server at the Arche Hotel in Lublin, is also helping watch refugees’ children. Credit...Magdalena Chodownik

The scene at the Arche Hotel is indicative of the situation in Lublin and other towns and cities along the Polish border.

The employees there have been given new roles, such as translators, child-care workers, and even emotional support for the arriving refugees. They don't think about the war's impact on their lives.

Anna Kurkowska, a server at the Arche Hotel Lublin, said that she doesn't think about tourism, she just has to help people. She is helping to serve food to incoming Ukrainians as well as watching their children.

A group of children from a Ukrainian orphanage are staying at the hotel. The Arche turned one of its conference rooms into a playroom where they played games like hide and seek and tag while watching fairy tales on television.

The server of Ukrainian origin has been working as a translator. Many of the people arriving were emotional and the staff was trying to help them.

I don't know if it is still a hotel, but it is now a single- family house.

Some hotels have raised their prices during the crisis, but not all of them have joined the effort. At the Victoria hotel in Lub, rooms that were going for about $80 suddenly cost more than $200, according to the hotel's website. Government block-booking of hotel rooms and transport services for their staff has caused shortages and contributed to price hikes.

Andrei Kuskovec, 14, fled Ukraine with his mother and three of his siblings. They are now staying at the Arche Hotel. Credit...Magdalena Chodownik

A 14-year-old from Ukraine who is now being housed at the Arche started breathing heavily as he described the moment he fled from his home with his mother and three siblings. His father and brother were left behind. Men aged 18 to 60 are not allowed to leave the country.

He could come with us, but he did not. My brother will come if they let men go, but for now it is as it is.

A woman is shaking and crying in the lobby of a hotel. She was on the phone with her parents in Ukranian when she heard an explosion. She didn't know if her husband and daughter were alive after not being able to reach them for more than a day. The woman pointed to a Russian tank next to her house when she showed her pictures on her phone.

Ms. Koman said that seeing people in pain and being fully professional is hard, but that you have to adapt to the new situation.

Krzysztof Raganowicz, the director of the Lublin Metropolitan Tourism Organization, who said that the outbreak of the war “stopped everything” related to tourism in the city. Credit...Magdalena Chodownik

One month ago, travel operators and local tourism boards began to hear optimism about a post-pandemic recovery, with inquiries from international group tours and business travelers interested in visiting Poland after a two-year hiatus. According to the Central Statistical Office of Poland, tourists spent more than $110 million in Lublin in 2019. Many fear that the war could cause a rebound this summer. Even as they focus on the plight of refugees, they are bracing for an uncertain future.

The director of the Lublin Metropolitan Tourism Organization said that the outbreak of the war stopped everything. Tourists prefer places far from danger for a quiet vacation.

Travel operators are looking at ways to help refugees as the war continues. A local initiative run in collaboration with the tourism organization aims to start guided city tours to show newcomers core institutions of the area, including hospitals, schools and local government buildings. They plan to organize cultural trips for children.

Leszek Piszewski heads the Jewish Religious Community of Warsaw, which has been collecting clothing, toys and other items for Ukrainian refugees. Credit...Magdalena Chodownik

refugees arriving at the Polish-Ukranian border have been offered free rides by the German company FlixBus. Travelers arriving from the capital of Romania can get free travel.

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There was no agreement. The Foreign Ministers of Russia and Ukraine met in Turkey for the first time since the beginning of the war. The cease-fire was never discussed by the Foreign Minister of Russia.

Leman, the managing director of FlixBus in Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, said that their priority was to help people coming from Ukraine.

Most of the buses on the routes from Przemy and Rzesz are occupied by passengers who bought tickets before the free travels were available.

The Ilan Hotel in Lublin was converted into a hotel by the Jewish Religious Community of Warsaw. All 40 of the hotel's rooms have been blocked off for refugees and the facility is being used to collect household items that will help them get settled.

The hotel manager said that they are focused on helping refugees at the moment.

The suitcases they had with them had to be left because there was no space in the train for their bags.

Larger travel companies have joined the effort to help refugees. Up to 100,000 refugees fleeing from Ukraine to neighboring countries like Poland, Hungary and Romania will be given free temporary housing thanks to a partnership between Airbnb and its nonprofit arm.

Thousands of people around the world have booked and paid for Airbnbs within Ukraine, with no plans to travel there, in an effort to send money to Ukrainian homeowners. More than 61,000 nights were booked in Ukraine by people in the United States between March 2 and 3, according to the company.

When she heard about the initiative she was hesitant because she was concerned that the hosts wouldn't be able to access the funds. She immediately booked an apartment in a Kyiv property, which sent $4,700 to a family of five, after reaching out to some of them and seeing their desperation.

After I sent out an inquiry, a woman in Kyiv sent me a picture of her three young children, huddled in a cold, dark basement filled with other distraught families.

She said that these people lost everything overnight, their homes, their incomes, and they have nothing left to fight for.

A history student and tour guide based in Berlin has been volunteering for the past week to drive refugees from the city's central train station to host families in the city.

It doesn't matter where you are from, what you do or where you work, Mr.Wagner said. Tomorrow we could be in their shoes as a result of the humanitarian crisis.

The reporter was from Lublin, Poland.