NEWS

Elijah Marsh funeral costs aided by Toronto crowdfunder

02/20/2015 09:45 EST | Updated 04/22/2015 05:59 EDT
A Toronto man says he's grateful for the donations pouring in for a crowdfunding campaign to help cover the funeral for Elijah Marsh, a three-year-old boy who died after wandering from an apartment and spending hours outside in the cold.

Elijah is shown on video-camera footage leaving the apartment building where he was staying with family at about 4 a.m. ET on Thursday. He was wearing a T-shirt, diaper and boots. He was found without vital signs just a few hundred metres from the apartment building, and was pronounced dead in hospital.

"I guess that's the most difficult part in all of this," said Justin Kozuch, the organizer of a Tilt.com crowdfunding campaign to pay for Elijah's funeral. 

"This could have been my child. This could have been a friend's child. This could have been anybody's child, and I think that's why this story has touched so many people and that's why we've seen the support that we've seen," he said on CBC News Network.

"As parents, we go to the ends of the Earth to protect our children and we'll do anything to keep them safe," said Kozuch, whose son is the same age as Elijah. 

Kozuch said he aimed to raise $10,000 when he started the campaign on Thursday. As of 10 a.m. ET on Friday, more than $60,000 have been raised.

"One person remarked on Twitter yesterday, 'Cold faces, warm hearts,' and I feel that really encapsulates the reaction that we've all seen from this story that touched so many people."

A makeshift memorial with teddy bears, candles and flowers was set up Friday at the spot where Elijah was found. 

"He has the sweetest little smile," said Milly Dyer a neighbour, who said she used to see Elijah  in the parking lot and wave to him.

"He's a shy little boy, but he has a really cute smile."

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