An independent toymaker from Chicago decided to use his unique talents to help the people of Ukraine and ended up raising $145,388 for medical aid for the country.
Like so many of us, Joe Trupia, the owner of Citizen Brick, a custom toy shop that manufactures various Lego minifigures and accessories, had been watching the news coming out of the war-torn country and was upset by the suffering of the Ukranian people. He was also inspired by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s leadership and decided to create a Lego minifigure version of the president and freedom fighter to sell to raise money for Ukrainians.
“I just felt that I had to act using what I had,” Trupia told The Washington Post when asked about his idea. “He’s a guy who could’ve fled the country with a suitcase full of money and instead he’s sticking by his people. I was just so impressed by his steadfastness and the hope he seems to give to people.”
On March 4, the Citizen Brick Facebook Page shared a link promoting the newest Lego in the company’s collection, saying, “100% of the sale of these items will to @directrelief to assist their efforts to bring medical supplies to the people of Ukraine.”
The $100 Zelenskyy Minifigure, along with a tiny version of a Molotov cocktail (sold separately for $10 ), went on sale the next day, and the Lego version of the Ukraine president quickly sold out.
“As you may have noticed, the minifigs sold out almost immediately,” posted the official Citizen Brick Instagram account. “We made as many as possible in a frantic 24 hrs, with the CB crew coming in on their day off to print.”
However, customers kept contacting the company to make more Zelenskyy figurines, so Trupia and his Citizen Brick team got back to work and announced a second run of the limited edition Lego on March 17. The shop announced it had a goal of raising $100,000 to support Direct Relief, a nonprofit organization working directly with Ukraine’s Ministry of Health to provide medical aid and other assistance.
Once again, within a day, the entire stock of Zelenskyy Lego figures sold out, with customers spending $145,388 to help those in need thousands of miles away.
Unfortunately, Citizen Brick said it cannot make any more of the popular Lego figure due to a “limited supply of necessary parts.”
“As always, you can make direct donations to directrelief.org,” Citizen Brick posted on its Facebook page, along with a screenshot from Trupia’s appearance on “Fox & Friends.”
The company also shared other toy companies doing their part to help Ukraine, including Brickmania, which is donating sales of various Lego sets featuring national military vehicles to the Ukrainian Red Cross. Brickmania website reported it has already sent nearly $31,000 in relief aid overseas.
Trupia told The Washington Post that he and his small crew were overwhelmed with the “frenzy” created by their Zelenskyy Lego Minifigure.
“I really wish we could do more, but we weren’t really outfitted for it,” he said.