Sunday, November 06, 2011

e's lemonade stand vs. homelessness

One Saturday this summer my 4-year-old son hosted a lemonade stand. This wasn't your little capitalist-entrepreneur-lemonade-stand, however; here's the story.

We were driving home from the grocery store one day and saw a homeless man sitting by the road with a cardboard sign. My son asked what he was doing there. So far this story is similar to one that happened last year and that I talked about here. In that story we gave the man a sack lunch, and my then-three-year-old son kept asking me, "But Mom, what else are we going to do?"

This time, we brainstormed what else a 4-year-old can do to help people who don't have homes. We talked about how people without homes need a place to stay, and that takes money and organization. I told him about a homeless shelter we have in our town and we talked about raising money for that shelter. We discussed ways that he could try to raise money, and he chose doing a lemonade stand.

For the several days before, he was SO excited! He told everyone he met that he was going to have a lemonade stand that weekend. I thought maybe he would forget about it, but he kept bringing it up and pestering me about it, so we did indeed have a lemonade stand! It threatened to rain, but it ended up being nice enough that people weren't freezing, drinking their lemonade. We had pink lemonade and regular lemonade, with a garnish of lemons and raspberries. We also had oatmeal chocolate chip cookies from my grandma's recipe. We charge 50 cents per cup and per cookie, and we advertised using our church's e-group, as well as signs on the fairly major road on which we had the stand. Many of our friends and family came by and supported E and the homeless shelter, and some who were just driving by stopped for some refreshment.

E had a blast! He's quite the little extrovert so he was in his element. In all we raised just over $150. We took it to the shelter and he got to see what it looks like and learn about it a little bit. He also got a little story in their newsletter! You can read it here (as well as a story about NWYM's service project there at Youth Yearly Meeting).

Although this wasn't really a huge, world-changing thing, I felt like it was great to give him a sense of empowerment that he could do SOMEthing, even though he wasn't changing the whole system. Hopefully he, and I, learned that we don't have to be immobilized by the massiveness of the problem, but we can do our part, and trust that others will do theirs, too, and that God will multiply our efforts.

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