A Ukrainian student has discovered a peculiar way to raise money for the military fighting against the Russian invasion by offering the public chance to send custom messages on artillery shells to the Russian forces before firing them for $40. The proceeds from the fundraising project will directly be used to arm the Ukrainian forces.

Anton Sokolenko, a 22-year-old IT student from Cherkasy in central Ukraine, shared that his message deal has raised thousands of dollars for local fighters. His ads are posted on social media platforms and forums such as Reddit.

“You have a chance to kill orcs with your text on a 152 mm artillery shell that will be fired at Russian soldiers,” reads one of Sokolenko’s promotional posts, using the common Ukrainian slur “Orc” against a Russian soldier. “You will receive a photo of your signed grenade.”

Sokolenko initially priced the donations at $40 per shell. However, due to popular demand and decreasing supply of artillery shells, the price has been raised to $100 per shell. If individuals availed of two, the price of a message would be $70.

Artillery shells with messages written on them (U24). Source: https://twitter.com/u24_news/status/1538635274984607746
Artillery shells with messages written on them (U24/Twitter)

The ad, posted on the encrypted messaging platform Telegram, states: “You can ask to write any text: wish someone a happy birthday/ death in pain, propose marriage, name, Instagram/ telegram username.” He then assured those seeing the ad that the shell would be fired toward the Russian forces.

He also posted a list of payment methods such as Venmo, Paypal, and Revolut, as well as a bank transfer for those seeking to pay via wire transfer. “Yeah, it’s a real thing… It took about 3 weeks to get a reply with a picture of my message,” said one satisfied customer.

The young volunteer disclosed that his efforts are neither officially sanctioned by the Ukraine government nor the country’s military authorities. He added most of his orders come from his Telegram channel and collaborated with a local non-government organization to put the message on the shells.

“Order your sign here – t.me/combat_ftg” Photo courtesy of Anton Sokolenko (@combat_ftg).

The wacky yet intuitive fundraising program has been an internet favorite, particularly within the Reddit community, which has been requesting to inscribe shells with memes. Other messages come with notes of where the donors came from, such as Australia, Germany, and Belgium.