Razom has brought so many people together that we’ve gotten into the habit of calling all of the volunteers stepping up to do what they can to help Ukraine as the “second front” of the war. Everyday people from all walks of life, professions, creeds, ethnicities, and worldviews unite to do one thing to help Ukraine, and it’s so beautiful. Small actions can have a big impact when we do things razom (meaning “together” in Ukrainian). It’s one of the many reasons Ukraine will win.
We want to shine a light on one such story, which is the story of a second generation Ukrainian-American who channeled her feelings of helplessness over what’s happening in Ukraine by putting her talents and resources to good use. In Sturgeon Bay, WI located in Northern Wisconsin’s Door County Peninsula, Christiana Gorchynsky Trapani began making blue and yellow candles at her small artisan shop called the Door County Candle Company to raise awareness about what’s happening in Ukraine in her community and raise funds for Razom’s Emergency Response project.
Christiana is the cousin of long-time Razom volunteer Taras Ferencevych. You might remember him selling Turbat camping gear at the Razom Lounge in 2018 at the 7th Street Festival in New York City. Razom’s success has always hinged on our ability to unlock the potential of a group of volunteers, and we are forever grateful for how they continue to show up.
In three week’s time, she sold over 40,000 “Ukraine” candles, raising over $300,000 (and counting) for Razom. Expecting to sell around 300, 40k is double the amount of candles the shop would sell in a year. They’ve delivered candles to all 50 states across the country. To be able to get this done, Christiana got her father, an ER doctor helping when he’s not on shift, her Door County community of volunteers, and even the previous owner of the shop, who came out of retirement to help streamline the process. People drive up from hours away to be a part of the volunteer effort pouring and preparing candles or making lunches and coffee for the team.
Even Christiana’s 82 year-old grandmother, who immigrated to the U.S. from Ukraine as a child during World War II, is helping to sticker the packages. When Christiana talks about watching her grandmother relive the war in Ukraine from when she was a child, she tears up. Christiana born in the U.S. with Ukrainian as her first language, has family in Ukraine today. What keeps her focused is remembering the bigger picture – that she, and the community she inspires, can make a difference for people fighting for their freedom in Ukraine. You don’t have to do everything, but you can do something, and together, that can be extraordinary.