Joe Trupia is an Illinois toymaker who took action after images of the war in Ukraine surfaced. He created a custom, Lego-based version of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in addition to little Lego Molotov cocktails with the Ukrainian flag on the labels which he sold to raise money for the war-torn nation.
“I think, like everyone else, we were shocked to see tanks rolling through European cities and people running and hiding in subway tunnels,” he said.
Trupia owns and operates Citizen Brick in Naperville, a company that’s been in business for 12 years.
In search of a way to help with efforts of relief for Ukraine, Trupia decided to create this Lego-inspired Zelenskyy figurine and Molotov cocktail.
The original plan was to hold a one-day sale, but the toys sold out in minutes – so, they made more. “I was surprised by how many people across the world were interested,” said Trupia.
Within two days, all inventory had sold out. Trupia had raised almost $150,000 and donated every penny to DirectRelief, a non-profit providing medical aid to Ukraine.
“It costs money and we would not be able to do [it] without Citizen Brick and others who have stepped up,” said Tony Morain with DirecRelief. “We don’t get government funding. It is all private citizens and businesses. So this means a lot.”
As it stands, there are no plans to produce any more Zelenskyy figurines or Molotov cocktails, but Trupia is considering other fundraising efforts for his company. “It was a big effort to pull together. It felt like a small drop. I wish we could have done more,” shared Trupia.