Door County Candle Company sells tin candles for Ukraine war victims without lights or power

Door County Candle Company raised hundreds of thousands for war relief efforts. Now it has a new mission as Ukrainians lose power and light.
Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 4:51 PM CST
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STURGEON BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - What started as a dream to reach out to her home country has transformed into an international mission to bring light and hope to the people of war-torn Ukraine.

Christiana Trapani, a Ukrainian and the owner of Door County Candle Company, launched a fundraiser in the spring to create yellow and blue candles -- the colors of Ukraine’s flag -- with 100% of profits going to relief efforts. It was a partnership with Razom for Ukraine.

They thought they might raise a few thousand dollars. It raised $800,000 and counting.

Then Ukraine encountered a new era of devastation. Trapani says when she heard Russia targeted the power systems and families were left to face winter in the dark and extreme cold, she had to find a new way to shine light and send comfort across the miles.

“It’s critical,” Trapani said. “I’ve been saying candles are a luxury for us. For them, it’s a necessity.”

Volunteers are pouring hot wax, working around the clock to fill orders, packaging yellow and blue candles -- beacons of hope for cold, hungry and scared families in war-ravaged Ukraine.

“It became so much more than a candle,” Trapani said. “It makes me so emotional. It breaks my heart. These are life-changing candles.”

Trapani grew up with a great love for her heritage and couldn’t believe it when her aunts and other family members overseas sent her videos.

“When the war broke out, it was horrifying. And I never thought in this day and age being in a war with someone, and they’re being attacked,” Trapani said. “All those emotions, I need to do something.”

She created the Ukraine Candle to raise money. Sales skyrocketed, with orders coming in from around the world. Sales are inching closer to providing $1 million in aid through the 501(c)(3) non-profit Razom for Ukraine.

But now with Russia targeting systems that provide light and heat, the tragedy sparked a new idea for Trapani: Long-burning, tin candles, marked in her native language reading “Glory to Ukraine.”

“A really big need is candles for light. Some warmth, but really for light. They don’t have power,” Trapani said.

When you decide to give through Door County Candle’s new initiative, a candle in a protective tin will be sent to help a family in Ukraine. And for every 16-ounce Ukraine Candle purchased, a tin candle will also be donated overseas.

“We are going to be sending -- hopefully be sending -- pallets of tin candles to their warehouse in New Jersey, and then from New Jersey they will be sending it overseas to Poland, and then from Poland they will send into Ukraine,” Trapani explained.

Two-thousand candles will soon be on their way.

Volunteers like Penny Beerntsen are spending more than 12 hours a day packaging, saying every candle brings a spark of hope.

“No person ever made a greater mistake than any person who did nothing. Because they can only do a little, with everybody doing a little, it turns into a huge effort, a huge impact,” Beerntsen said.

One candle, each burning with 72 hours of hope.

Trapani says they will pour candles as long as orders pour in.

“Every single person helps make a big change,” she said. “We can’t do it alone, and without the community support -- near and far -- we couldn’t do this.”

After raising thousands of dollars for relief efforts, Door County Candle Company is helping those without lights and power