raising little ones in the great outdoors

Easy Ways Kids Can Save the World: Lemonade Stand

SAVING THE WORLD. Notice I capitalized it to make it seem big. It actually might seem a bit less daunting to a child, than a been-around-the-block adult. Pull it together Dad. Mom, super heroes do it all the time. There are the simple ways – turning off the water while brushing your teeth. A slightly more creative way – next time your kids visit with their grandparents get them to give your parents a recycling seminar. These are simple fixes for small problems. What happens when kids ask about bigger, global issues?

In life, there are problems that are so distant and so huge that they can seem impossible to solve. I mean, what can a kid from Kansas do to help penguins in the Antarctic or African children enduring starvation due to drought? Yet these problems when seen on the nightly news still make an impression on young minds. As adults, do we just say “That’s life?”

Big problems may require big solutions, but those big solutions are founded in thousands of small fixes piled together. There is something our kids can do. Put them to work. Give them an outlet for making a difference. Make lemonade.

Write down this equation: Well-placed lemonade stand + Poster board marketing + Charitable organization to send money to + Temperatures >90˚= Bank.

As a seven-year-old, the plight of Ethiopian children left me sick to my stomach. On my own, I created a lemonade stand and set it up on a hot Sunday morning right down the corner from the local church. In two hours, I raised $124, which seemed like a veritable fortune in my mind. I couldn’t figure out why people were handing me five-dollar bills for a 50-cent cup of lemonade and then refusing change. Two days later, my mom helped me ship that money off to UNICEF. I felt empowered. I still cringed when scenes of famine appeared on Dan Rather’s nightly news report, but I also knew that I was capable of doing something about it.

As a parent, you’ll have to invest some time. Lemons grow on trees, but lemonade stands don’t. If your child comes to you concerned about certain issues, help them find an organization that works on the issue. Try to find stories about people who chose to get involved. In the long run, you’ll help foster imagination and life goals in your children.

You're not 'not' pregnant. This actually the Earth Day Flag, which apparently they poached from a home pregnancy test

You're not 'not' pregnant. This actually the Earth Day Flag, which apparently they poached from a home pregnancy test

If you want to take the lemonade fundraiser one step further (probably best for a slightly older kid), give your local bank branch a call. Most bank managers have a small slush fund for charitable community acts. Tell them about your child’s efforts. There’s a good chance they’ll be able to match the dollar amount your child raised. I remember on a later lemonade charity campaign, my mom (who I’m sure organized it ahead of time) dragged my brother and me into our local bank. We sat at a gleaming, polished oak desk across from a man in a suit. He shook our hands, thanked us for our efforts and then he signed a check doubling the money we had made. My mom took us out for milkshakes. I looked at her wide-eyed about what had just happened. “If you do good things, people in your community will come forward to support your efforts,” she said. It stuck.

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5 Responses to “Easy Ways Kids Can Save the World: Lemonade Stand”

  1. Jeremy says:

    “If you do good things, people in your community will come forward to support your efforts,” she said. It stuck.

    Wonderful lesson…

  2. Yeah, you have to fight for it sometimes, but it’s often true. My mom is pretty sage. She also can’t figure out that if you turn your cell phone off nobody can call back. Win some, loose some I guess.

  3. Jennie says:

    I love the lesson here. My dilemma is how hard to push my child to be charitable? We donate to charities and give service regularly. We even take the kids to buy Christmas presents for Angel Tree kids.
    Nevertheless, I recently tried to “encourage” my eight year old to use his birthday party as a service opportunity because he honestly couldn’t think of anything he wanted. No way. He wanted nothing to do with the idea. Finally, I realized that I was forcing him to do something good – where’s the lesson? “My mom MADE me donate my presents?” I backed off, but I still worry that I’m raising a selfish child. How can I create giving moments without dragging my child kicking and screaming?

    • You can’t mess with the b-day. :) That’s a good question though. Probably not one I’m qualified to answer, but I know from my childhood I had parents and grandparents that made it a point to be involved in their communities. I think your efforts will probably rub off. Also, maybe someone will correct me if I’m wrong, but a good way might be to participate in something like Big City Mountaineers — a program that uses climbing as a way to raise money for to get inner city kids outside. Or maybe a stream restoration program sponsored by local nature groups. Or a fun run for charity. I think this presents charitable acts in a way that has less to do with money (or in the case of your son, b-day presents) and more as a way of giving back with time…one of the greatest donations anyone can make. Kids have time too; they’re wealthy when it comes to time. It’s why school years seem to last forever and the holidays are always so far away. It’s why kids can get bored quick. For adults, we often feel our time is scarce but our bank accounts are robust.

      Maybe start by getting them to participate their time, they get a chance to see that these activities are actually fun. It’s harder on your schedule, but it might be the gateway your kids need to get involved in the community.

      That’s just my hunch.

  4. simon geering says:

    On a similar theme:
    Six-year-old recently became the youngest to summit all 214 Wainwright peaks in the Lake District England raising more than £5,000 for charity:

    http://www.grough.co.uk/view/2009/03/11/six-year-old-tom-bags-wainwrights-record-for-charity/

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