Good Samaritans

Thousands of kilometres from the front, these Torontonians raised millions for fighters and refugees

▲ The musicians

Who: Mark and Marichka Marczyk, members of the Toronto folk acts Lemon Bucket ­Orkestra and Balaklava Blues
Why they helped: Mark and Marichka met at a protest in Kyiv during the Maidan Revolution. Now married, they create music that celebrates their culture and warns about the ongoing danger that Russia poses to Ukraine. “When the recent invasion happened, we had eight years of songs written,” says Mark.
What they did: The couple and their fellow performers donated the proceeds from two concerts to the Canada Ukraine Foundation and #UniteWithUkraine campaign.
What they raised: $41,000, bringing their lifetime donations to Ukrainian causes to $500,000. “This cause has coloured every part of our lives,” says Mark.

▲ The entrepreneur

Who: Myron Genyk, CEO of Evermore, a Toronto-based asset management start-up
Why he helped: Genyk officially launched his new company on February 23, 12 hours before Russia invaded Ukraine. “I couldn’t go through with celebrating,” he says. “All of a sudden, I was desperately trying to contact my relatives in Ukraine. I felt like we had to help in the biggest way we could.”
What he did: Genyk pledged to donate 100 per cent of Evermore’s revenue over three months to the Canada Ukraine Foundation.
What he raised: He expects to accrue $10,000. “We’ll be bigger five years down the road, but now is the time to donate,” he says. “Most of our investors are family, so they understood the decision. We had unanimous support across the board.”

▲ The veteran

Who: Ihor Kozak, a military veteran and ­management consultant
Why he helped: When Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, Kozak, whose family came to Canada after the fall of the Soviet Union, co-founded the Friends of Ukraine Defence Forces Fund to raise money to buy helmets, body armour and first-aid kits.
What he did: In late February, Kozak and his team put out a plea for new donations and assembled an international team of volunteers to get supplies into Ukraine. “My wife is a real trooper,” he says. “She has our newborn baby in one hand and the cellphone in the other, raising money and problem-solving.”
What he raised: $5 million, which he’s used to buy supplies and non-lethal military equipment—“whatever is needed to save lives.” Read more about Kozak’s story here.

▲ The gamer

Who: Daniel Kajouie, founder and CEO of the mobile game developer WGAMES
Why he helped: Every year, Kajouie’s company donates a few thousand dollars to a charitable cause. “This time, it was a no-brainer,” he says. “We have both Ukrainians and Russians on our team, and everyone got behind the idea of supporting Ukraine.”
What he did: Kajouie started a GoFundMe, pitched in $2,500 of his company’s money and pledged to send all funds raised to Israel4Ukraine, which organizes buses to bring Ukrainians across the Polish border.
What he raised: $7,000, with a goal of raising $26,000, enough to fund four buses carrying 40 people each. “Twelve hours after we set up the GoFundMe, we already had enough for one bus ride, so we quadrupled our goal.”

▲ The artist

Who: Valeriy Kostyuk, an associate producer at Lighthouse Immersive
Why he helped: Before the war, Kostyuk, who grew up in Odessa, Ukraine, was in the process of creating an exhibition showcasing the painting and poetry of Ukrainian artist Taras Shevchenko. When Russia attacked, he accelerated his plan and turned the show into a ­fundraiser.
What he did: To fast-track the show, Kostyuk and a team of 500 across six countries worked around the clock for weeks. They donated their proceeds to the Ukrainian Red Cross Society and National Bank of Ukraine Fund.
What he raised: $200,000, through selling more than 6,000 tickets at shows across North America. The exhibition’s two-week run in Toronto was entirely sold out. Read more about Kostyuk’s story here.

Big Heart, Little Ukraine