TORONTO – Donations are flooding in to an online campaign to raise money for the funeral of a three-year-old boy who died after wandering away from a Toronto apartment into the bitter cold.
Elijah Marsh walked out of the building early Thursday and was found about six hours later in the corner of a nearby backyard. He was rushed to hospital and police announced his death several hours later.
Justin Kozuch says he started the fundraising campaign on Tilt.com because as the father of a three-year-old son, the tragedy really hit home.
His post on the site asks people to help raise some much-needed funds to cover the cost of Elijah’s funeral, adding “every dollar matters” and any donation is greatly appreciated.
As of 10:30 a.m. Friday, more than $64,000 had already been raised.
The 36-year-old Toronto resident says the response has been “truly amazing” and says Tilt.com is waiving all credit card fees for those who contribute.
“The death of this child must be truly devastating to the family and friends of Elijah, the many members of the law enforcement and medical community in Toronto, as well as the countless Torontonians who helped search for him, spread the message of his disappearance and prayed for his safe return,” Kozuch said in his posting on the Tilt site.
Some contributors shared their thoughts after making a donation.
“This broke my heart,” said Jennifer Yearwood. “It’s least I could do for that sweet little boy, Elijah.”
“The generosity of people in times of such great loss and tragedy are heartwarming,” said Dawn MacDonald. “God bless Elijah. You are now with the Angels dear little man.”
Security camera video showed Elijah, dressed only in a shirt, diaper and winter boots, pushing his way through two doors and leaving his grandmother’s apartment building at about 4 a.m. Thursday when temperatures had fallen to about -20 C.
Family members, who notified police of his disappearance at about 7:30 a.m., said they had put him to bed Wednesday night and woke up to find him gone and the front door open, police said.
Officers on horseback, foot and in a helicopter searched for him, and police asked neighbours to search their yards, hallways and stairwells for the missing youngster.
Police Chief Bill Blair called it “a tragic set of circumstances.”