Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lemonade for a Cause

A couple of summers ago, I drove to my niece's Phoenix wedding by way of Southern California. It had been a hectic school year and I needed some time to myself. Along the way I was able to visit my best buddy Sally in Carlsbad, CA. She loaned me an extra bike one morning and we enjoyed a leisurely ride alo
ng the coast. Of course, I'm workin' even when I'm not and fundraisers always pique my interest. As we rode through the neighborhoods around Del Mar I was impressed with the cutest bunch of kids who had set up a lemonade stand for charity. It was a bit more decorative than the one our kids had recently, and with a fundraising twist. Instead of working to earn money for themselves, they were raising money for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I didn't have my camera at the time--I've since learned to take it everywhere--so this photo of our little lemonade stand might inspire.

To take the concept further, one brave little eight-year-old-cancer patient enlisted the help her neighbors by starting a lemonade stand to fund treatment for other children with the same disease she had. Alexandra Scott did not survive cancer, but her first neighborhood lemonade stand earned $2,000 "to fight childhood cancer, one cup at a time." By the time she passed away, Alex's Lemonade Stand had raised over one million dollars to fund cancer research.

Now, Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation raises money every year, by hosting community-wide events all across the country. Through her unselfish effort, one young girl made a difference for other children in a very simple way. As I work this month to provide community service resources for 210 summer school students to fulfill a requirement for the Living Skills course in our school district, I think about the creative ideas of unassuming young children who go out and make a batch of lemonade, with cookies or banana bread, and let go of "what the neighbors will think." They ask for a little support from mom and dad to get poster-board for a sign, and off they go--right out of their comfort zones to the side of the road peddling an often too-sour or too-watery lemonade. But the rest of us don't care about the actual product, we want to support their work ethic and "the cause."

So, any of you students or other young people who are bored and think you can't do much to make a difference without signing up for a major event, give it a try. Put yourself out there with a sign and some tasty lemonade. Throw in homemade cookies, or a baked treat unique to your culture. Your neighbors will be inspired, and you can provide funding for the cause of your choice. Describe to your customers the efforts of the charity you are supporting, and at the end of your sale take the proceeds directly to the post office to request a money order payable to that charity. You can even make a big "thank you" sign and post it where your sale took place, reminding them of when your next sale will be held. With one successful sale, you may find that little Alex's idea was worth repeating.

Tasty Lemonade Trick:
Make powdered lemonade, and add the juice of some fresh lemons to taste. Slice a few for effect and leave in the pitcher.

Other Sales to Try:
My girls made loads of cashing selling Italian sodas when they were young. Mix 1/4 c. Torino syrup, 1/4 c. cream (keep cold!), and 6 oz. seltzer water for a refreshing roadside treat.

One caveat: This should only be done with parent approval and supervision, in the daylight hours and in a safe area or neighborhood.

Alex's Lemonade Stand is now a national organization sponsoring events in mid-June to end childhood cancer:

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