NEWS

Elijah Marsh vigil planned for Saturday morning

02/21/2015 11:10 EST | Updated 04/23/2015 05:59 EDT
A vigil for three-year-old Elijah Marsh will take place Saturday morning, outside of the north Toronto apartment building where the boy wandered away in the frigid cold. 

The memorial is expected to begin at 11:30 a.m. ET at the Neptune Drive building. Elijah was found without vital signs just a few hundred metres from the apartment building, and was pronounced dead a few hours later in hospital.

Elijah was seen on video-camera footage leaving the apartment building where he was staying with family at about 4 a.m. ET on Thursday in extremely cold weather. He was wearing a T-shirt, diaper and boots. 

A Toronto man behind a crowdfunding campaign for the boy's funeral says he's grateful donations are pouring in to help the family.

By Saturday morning, more than $148,000 had been raised — and the campaign doesn't close until Sunday at 5 p.m. 

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

"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, who has a son the same age as Elijah. 

All proceeds go to Elijah's family

Kozuch said his aim was to raise $20,000 when he started the campaign on Thursday. 

Tilt.com is waiving all credit card fees for those who contribute.

"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."​

Kozuch told CBC News he has not yet spoken with the Marsh family. However, he has their contact information and will attempt to speak with someone from the family in the coming days to ensure "an expedient transfer of funds."

All of the money, no matter how much is raised, will go to the family, Kozuch said. 

Some contributors shared their thoughts after making a donation.

"This broke my heart," said Jennifer Yearwood. "It's the least I could do for that sweet little boy, Elijah."

"The generosity of people in times of such great loss and tragedy is heartwarming," said Dawn MacDonald. "God bless Elijah. You are now with the angels dear little man."

Expressions of grief have gone beyond monetary donations to the campaign. A makeshift memorial with teddy bears, candles and flowers was set up Thursday night at the spot where Elijah was found. 

"He has the sweetest little smile," recalled neighbour Milly Dyer, 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."

Mike Colle, the MPP for the area where Elijah was found, said he was taking food and coffee to the boy's
family Friday afternoon.

Colle said he has contacted the local school trustee and the wheels are in motion to have Elijah's nearby daycare renamed after the boy.

"We can grieve, we can help with the funeral, we can do all this, but at least let's try and make a bit of a positive thing out of here," Colle said.

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