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‘For them, it’s a necessity’: Wisconsin company sells candles to support Ukrainians amid power outages

Door County Candle Co. has raised $800K for humanitarian efforts, now providing light

A tin candle with a message of positivity sits in front of Ukraine Candles that have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in humanitarian aid for the war-torn country.
A tin candle with a message of positivity sits in front of Ukraine Candles that have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in humanitarian aid for the war-torn country. The candles have been made by Door County Candle Co., which is now working to send tin candles to Ukraine. Photo courtesy of Door County Candle Co.

A business in Northeast Wisconsin is turning its attention to providing a source of light for Ukrainians after Russian attacks left many without power.

Door County Candle Co. has raised over $800,000 to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, with a goal to raise $1 million.

Company owner Christiana Trapani is a second generation Ukrainian-American. Both her maternal and paternal grandparents came to America from Ukraine.

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Trapani said she’ll never forget the day Russia invaded Ukraine, describing the war as “heartbreaking.”

“I have deep roots, being Ukrainian, and we still have family in Ukraine,” Trapani said. “This hit home for many people, but, for me particularly, it hit home.”

A woman wearing a yellow sweatshirt with a sunflower on it speaks with a customer
Christiana Gorchynsky Trapani, owner of Door County Candle Company, wears a sweatshirt showing a sunflower, a national symbol of Ukraine. Photo courtesy of PBS Wisconsin 

Trapani added that her family members back in Ukraine are “terrified” right now.

“They’re staying home because they’re too afraid to leave,” she said. “They’re coping as best as they can by just trying to survive.”

Trapani’s ties to Ukraine motivated her to use the business she’s been running since June 2021 to do something to help.

Earlier this year, Door County Candle Co. developed a candle in the colors of the country’s flag. Trapani said the community’s response has been overwhelming.

“The first day we started this we had like 10 volunteers come in the door and ask us, ‘What can we do? We want to help,’” she said. “And since then, we have had so many people who have come and just want to help and want to do their part. It really has been amazing.”

The company recently asked customers for donations to support sending candles to Ukraine.

On Black Friday, the company launched a one-for-one special, where sales of the Ukraine candle would result in sending a candle to a war-torn country where people are struggling with power outages caused by Russian attacks on utilities. Those who don’t want to purchase a candle for themselves can still donate a candle.

Several blue and yellow candles are arranged as part of a fundraiser
The Ukraine candles the Door County Candle Company made for its fundraiser are blue and yellow and can burn for about 72 hours, the company’s owner said. Photo courtesy of PBS Wisconsin

“A big need coming up is candles,” she said. “There’s a paraffin wax shortage in Europe. With the power outages and winter coming, candles really are a necessity.”

Those donating candles can include a customized message.

“Everyone has the option to include a message of hope, love or strength on their order,” Trapani said. “And then what we’re going to do is we’re going to make sure all of those messages get written down and put on the tin candles when they’re sent over to Ukraine.”

The company sent over 2,000 candles in December, and plans to continue shipments throughout the winter.

“Candles can be a luxury for us here,” Trapani said. “But for them, it’s a necessity. So we plan to keep producing them as long as they need them.”

Although the war is unfolding in Eastern Europe, Trapani said it’s a “huge issue” for the rest of the world.

She said the war isn’t just about Ukraine’s freedom, but the sovereignty of every nation. That’s why Trapani believes it’s crucial that Americans show their solidarity with Ukraine.

“I think so many people coming together to put an end to this in all the ways we can is very important because it is more than just an issue in Ukraine,” she said. “It really is a global issue, a world issue. And everyone’s watching.”

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