Thursday, August 6, 2009

Honk for Lemonade

Regardless of our crazy Northern California weather patterns and a possible global-warming-induced chilly summer, it's still the season for lemonade stands, garage sales, and car wash fundraisers. It seems my neighborhood has hosted fewer of these gatherings this year; perhaps everyone is out of town? During my typical taxi rounds yesterday I noticed a very colorfully drawn lemonade stand poster and remembered my creed to stop at all such kid-run enterprises to promote youthful productivity. I always feel sorry for the children whose parents forgot to give them a reality check that business would be slow so they need to charge more than ten cents per cup to make it worth the effort.

The Cowper Street kids had it down: fifty cents for a clear plastic cup
of pink or yellow sweet lemonade, and seventy-five for half a slice of freshly baked banana bread. I looked in my wallet and only found twenties, then remembered my son Brody's first such money-making endeavor when he sold Minute Maid and my special triple chocolate chip cookies. The cookies were such a hit that one customer gave him a twenty and said, "keep the change." While waiting for my neighbors to help the previous customer, I contemplated their cause but decided as a a school employee I'd better get my change this time. After purchasing for myself and my daughter Meredith, the total due: $2.50. The beautiful young girl began to count out $8.00 as change for my twenty, and I pitched in with a mini math lesson. Counting back the $17.50 proved to be a challenge, she was very careful but obviously drained by the task. I asked her and the little brother if they had to reimburse their parents for supplies? (This was the point where Brody used to say, "No fair, Mom!") The kids responded yes, their parents made them pay back for the supplies to make the lemonade and the bread. By the looks of the Tupperware coffer, they actually stood to make a profit as their prime location on the main drag kept the stand going steady.

When I got back into my car, I sensed that
unexpected but undeniable feeling that I had done a good deed today. How, you say, can filling one's tummy with processed sugar and carbohydrates be positive? I know fourteen years ago at age nine, my son Brody and his partner-in-crime Jimmy were given a job to do on an otherwise boring summer day. The sheer excitement of a car stopping was enough to satisfy those two young boys. I will never forget the gleaming smiles when they realized that after expenses they had netted a whopping $35! Who knows how much the Cowper Street kids made yesterday, but they were occupied and feeling good about a contribution to their community. My $2.50 could not have been better spent.

Good Works Cool Community Service Project: Host a Lemonade Stand for Charity
  1. Gather supplies from home, or make a shopping list (be frugal, get donations).
  2. Choose a local, state, or national cause that you feel strongly about. (Ex: bicycle safety, teen homelessness, earthquake preparedness, etc.)
  3. Find an organization that serves that cause, research ways to donate small amounts of cash. (Usually you can find a "donate" button on the website)
  4. Make a large, fabulous, colorful sign to advertise your cause and prices of goods to sell. If possible, include a true story of someone who has benefited from this organization.
  5. Make delicious lemonade and treats.
  6. Set up a clean stand, with a fresh tablecloth or plastic cover and a cash box (be sure to get some change for large bills).
  7. Be sure to tell your customers the money is going to your designated cause. You may reimburse yourself (or your parents) for supplies, but IMMEDIATELY after your sale is over and cleaned up take the cash to the post office and purchase a money order made out to the charity that you advertised. Very important ethical issue: DO NOT change causes after your sale, and BE SURE the cash goes straight to the organization. This can be tricky if you have not researched how to send the money before the sale.
  8. You can use the same to-do list and concept to host a yard sale or car wash for the cause of your choice, or even try all three.

Have fun doing good works this summer, there's still time!

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