Second Street Market vendor fundraises for Ukraine

15 years, 3 fundraisers, and 48 scents

A husband-and-wife candles and crafts business at 2nd Street Market has continued years of fundraising efforts with its latest sales and donations to support the people of Ukraine in their conflict with Russia.

Dayton-area natives Marian and Chuck Aliaga started Marian’s Candles & Crafts 15 years ago. Since, they have done multiple rounds of fundraisers to help the Dayton community and beyond.

Soon after Russia invaded Ukraine, Chuck began to make products sporting the yellow and blue of Ukraine’s flag.

“We thought, ‘Maybe there’s something that we could to to help generate some sales and make a donation to a good cause for Ukrainian people,’” Chuck said.

He has made facemasks, shirts, garden flags and more to sell at the market in support of Ukraine during the conflict. Creating the crafts is a community effort, with a friend who designs the artwork, a friend who prints window clings and Chuck using vinyl presses at his home to make the apparel. In less than three months, Marian’s Candles & Crafts has donated about $350 to the Knights of Columbus Ukrainian solidarity fund.

“I saw that they collected funds going to the children, going to the food, to shelters, to the Catholic churches,” Chuck said of how the money is used.

He has seen the effect of their efforts firsthand, connecting with Ukrainian customers and neighbors. Chuck remembers one woman who came up to him at the market who said she was a dancer who had performed in a music hall now destroyed by bombings.

“We’ve had some people from Ukraine come to our booth also, and thanked us for selling some of the items,” Chuck said.

The business began at Minster Oktoberfest in 2007, when the Aliagas presided over a table of wooden roses. A woman who hand pours candles in her Celina home’s kitchen approached them about a partnership selling her seven different scents at 2nd Street Market in Dayton. In 2022, their array of offerings has expanded to 48 scents and everything from garden flags to t-shirts.

This isn’t the first time the Aliagas have raised money for their hometown. After the Memorial Day tornadoes hit the region in 2019, they made t-shirts and donated the funds to a food drive at St. Peter Catholic Church in Huber Heights, the church they attend. The food and donations went to those affected in the North Dayton area.

Three months later, Chuck was celebrating his birthday on Aug.4. when he heard about the shooting incident in the Oregon District that killed nine and wounded 17.

“I will never forget that day,” Chuck said.

A few days later, he took pictures of the Oregon District and began making shirts, selling them and donating profits to the Dayton Foundation.

Just as Chuck has supported his community through struggles, he and Marian have worked to keep Marian’s Candles & Crafts alive and thriving through COVID-19, economic downturns and changes that come in 15 years of business.

The market, their mainstay of business, shut down in 2020. The business stayed afloat during the shutdown by making personalized garden flags for graduating seniors. As 2nd Street Market began to reopen for sellers outside, they weathered the changes and sold face masks as their other materials went to waste.

“We are about where we were in 2019,” Chuck said. “We’re as good, if not a little bit better.”

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