POLITICS

Funeral Saturday for Elijah Marsh, 3, who died after wandering out on frigid night

02/23/2015 04:05 EST | Updated 04/25/2015 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - A funeral for a Toronto boy who died after wandering outside in the middle of a bitterly cold night dressed only in a shirt, diapers and boots is scheduled for Saturday.

Three-year-old Elijah Marsh died last Thursday after wandering away from his grandmother's apartment building, sparking a search that gripped people across the country.

His family has extended a public invitation to both Saturday's funeral and the visitation, which will be held on Thursday.

Elijah's death prompted Justin Kozuch, a Toronto man who has a three-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter, to start a campaign on Tilt.com to help raise money for the boy's funeral.

A total of $173,557 was raised in the campaign, which started with an initial goal of $20,000. Kozuch said it is all being donated to the Marsh family and it is up to them to decide how they want to use the funds.

Elijah's mother, Georgette Marsh, thanked those who donated to the online fundraiser, calling it "surreal."

"I know so many people, people who don't know him, love him and feel for me and family who are grieving so much," she said Monday in a release.

"It's the worst thing in the world to lose your child and to lose him like this."

A second online fundraiser started by Maria Petrov and the Toronto Mommies Facebook group had raised nearly $4,300 by mid-afternoon Monday.

In announcing the funeral, the Marsh family said it continues to be grateful for all the donations they have received and appealed for donations to a trust account "to support Elijah Marsh."

A makeshift memorial of flowers and stuffed toys was also erected outside the grandmother's apartment building.