To celebrate the last day of school, a bunch of moms from my church got together with the kids at a local park to eat snacks, play and kick off our summer break. It was at this time we briefly discussed having a lemonade stand to help raise money for an organization that helps refugees.
We had been counseled in the months prior by our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to reach out and help lift the burdens of refugees in any capacity that we were able. With a bunch of kids at our feet, and time on our hands we thought it would be a good idea to get involved in this effort and help.
A couple weeks later, we found ourselves at our friend Lisa’s home. She has a huge row of lemon trees! The kids filled bags and bags of fresh lemons while dodging thorns and spider webs. What a fun adventure! Some even got to use the ladder, which is a big thing when you're seven! Squeezing all those fresh lemons for our lemonade concentrate was next on the agenda. We had four manual citrus juicers and one electric juicer. Thank heaven for the electric juicer! It alone kept the attention of our boys for much longer than we were anticipating, and we finally finished with gallons of lemon juice. We would return the next day to set up the stand and sell, sell, sell. It had been an eventful day and the kids (and moms) were tired.
The next day came around and it was time to sell lemonade. We set everything up, mixed up the lemonade and made signs. Alongside lemonade, there were Fun Dips and cookies for sale. Lisa's boys had sold lemonade previously with an awesome stand they had built and painted, so that's what we used this time around. While making signs, it was decided that UNICEF would be our organization of choice. I asked Lisa exactly how she went about choosing UNICEF and she said, “I searched different ones to see who served the needs of children more. I loved how they were rebuilding their education.” So UNICEF was written down to let all customers know we were raising money for a cause.
I searched different ones to see who served the needs of children more. I loved how they were rebuilding their education.
The kids were such troopers, standing out there in the hot sun yelling "LEMONADE!", "GET YOUR FRESH LEMONADE!" Lucy, my daughter who is five, came up with the slogan, "Lemon Squeeze for Refugees!" It gave us all a good laugh. Also, running the cash box was the prized position at the stand. Ginny, Jana’s daughter, loved doing this job. All the kids wanted a turn at running the cash box. It ended up being a hot day, so to keep the kids motivated; Lisa talked about how the refugee kids had lost their schools and all their books. Aidan, her son, couldn’t imagine not having any books to read! We had a great time; it was truly fun-- all while making almost $100 for the refugees.
A couple of weeks later, Jana and I got together again and had another Lemonade stand and raised $30 in about an hour. A police officer showed up and the kids were so excited to take their picture with an officer next to his cool car.
We wanted the kids to have the experience of turning in the check to the fine people at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF in downtown San Francisco. I made the appointment with Chandni Jain, San Francisco Community Engagement Fellow at the U.S. Fund. She scheduled a conference room and showed the kids a slideshow about where their money would go and exactly what goes on at UNICEF. Going in to the meeting, I was worried that $130 was not very much and couldn't do much to help. Boy was I wrong!
Vaccines are only 18 cents for UNICEF. Pennies are used to donate mosquito nets, water jugs, purification tablets and nutrition packets. Pennies! Our money was going to go a lot farther than I had imagined. If all of our money went towards a polio vaccine alone, that would help 722 kids!
We learned so much about helping refugees, UNICEF, and how to help others while having fun. We will always remember this experience. We will always remember UNICEF. We will always remember there are others who need our help and we have the power to do something about it.