The largest population movement in the history of Europe since the Second World War has been the migration processes of recent years, which reached its peak in Hungary in 2015. The significant demographic movement has generated noteworthy social reactions and has developed different narratives in the civil sector and also in the field of political power. In Hungary, the refugee issue has become a decisive topic of political discourse since 2015, and the ruling party coalition was among the first in Europe to represent the security policy. As a result, the refugees appeared as a source of danger, so the government has communicated a position of their rejection. In spite of this context, grassroots volunteer groups were organised in the civil sphere, who helped the refugee masses passing through Hungary in 2015.

In my paper I analyse a very brief but very intense manifestation of Hungarian civil society involvement as a social response to current conflicts. I am looking at how the grassroots crisis management of the 2015 migration wave unfolded in Debrecen. My cultural anthropological research is based on online and offline participatory observations, semi-structured interviews and informal conversations with volunteers who helped refugees in Debrecen.

In my study I focus on the motivations, attitudes, social responsibility of volunteers and their voluntary activity embedded in a broader socio-political set of conditions. The goal is to create a complex, multivocal illumination of the phenomenon. In the first part of my writing, I analyse the formation and operational peculiarities of philanthropic organizations showing solidarity with refugees in Debrecen. Then I focus on the individual aspects of volunteering. Finally, I am examining the socio-political context of the civil voluntary movement, also presenting the political interpretations of refugee assistance and its impact on volunteering. My aim is to outline a segment of the contemporary volunteering phenomenon in order to provide a framework for understanding the events recently affecting the civil sphere.

Keywords: contemporary volunteering, grassroots, civil sphere, social participation, philanthropy, helping refugees

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