Trumbull teens sell chocolate to raise money for Ukraine

Trumbull High sophomores Alex Delales, left, and Sam DiVasto hold a store display loaded with their Freedom Bars, chocolate bars they are selling as a fundraiser for Ukraine relief, in Trumbull, Conn. on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.

Trumbull High sophomores Alex Delales, left, and Sam DiVasto hold a store display loaded with their Freedom Bars, chocolate bars they are selling as a fundraiser for Ukraine relief, in Trumbull, Conn. on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.

Brian A. Pounds / Hearst Connecticut Media

TRUMBULL — Sam DiVasto and Alex Delales don’t think chocolate can solve all the world’s problems. But they hope it can help.

The 16-year-old Trumbull High School students have started selling customized chocolate bars to raise money for humanitarian charities in Ukraine. Labeled “Freedom Bars,” they are sheathed in blue and yellow wrappers — the colors of the Ukrainian flag — and cost $5 each.

DiVasto said the chocolate fundraiser is his way of trying to make a difference in the world, which he has been trying to do ever since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

“I saw what was going on in the Ukraine,” DiVasto said. “The devastation happening there is insane.”

Delales echoed his friend’s concerns. “They don’t have any resources there,” he said.

The teens said they know that people in Ukraine will need support throughout the ongoing conflict, and even afterward, when they have to rebuild in their lives in the wake of the war.

“What was going on in my head is ‘I have to do something,’ ” DiVasto said.

But, he said, he didn’t want to just make a onetime donation and move on. He wanted to do a long-term project that would not only raise money for humanitarian causes that help those in Ukraine, but also keep discussion of the war alive. Suddenly, he happened upon an idea — selling chocolate to raise money for Ukraine.

“A lot of people like chocolate,” DiVasto said.

He enlisted Delales to help in his efforts and the two purchased 200 chocolate bars from Chocomize, a Florida-based business that sells customized chocolate bars. They have also created an Instagram account, chocolate.for.ukraine.

Though DiVasto said he hasn’t officially picked a charity yet, two that he’s considering are Come Back Alive, a Ukrainian non-governmental organization that assists the Ukranian military, and World Central Kitchen, a not-for-profit devoted to providing meals in the wake of natural disasters.

They have only been selling the bars for two months, mostly at school and to family members, but they’ve already made back their initial investment of $569, plus another $100 that has already been earmarked for charity.

“I’ve had aunts and grandparents buy most of mine,” Delales said.

With school ending for the year, the two said they’re not sure what the next step is. DiVasto said he’d like to sell them at local businesses, but they only have about 80 bars yet, and he wants to figure out if the project has enough traction to justify buying more shipments of bars.

“We have to determine how long we can do this for,” he said. “It’s a balancing act.”

DiVasto said he’d like to continue the project for as long as possible, and his ultimate goal is raise $10,000 for charity.

“We have only raised 1 percent of that,” he said.

So far, DiVasto and Delales said people have been supportive of their efforts. DiVasto said the appeal of the project is that it’s an easy way for people to contribute to a cause.

“It’s easier to give $5 (for a bar) than to give $100,” DiVasto said. “And the chocolate is really good.”