Neighborhood Kids' Lemonade Stand to Help Others
Trio of 7-year-old neighborhood friends takes old-fashioned enterprise to help others in need 

By Joe Gulick | AVALANCHE-JOURNAL
Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The three 7-year-old neighborhood friends sprang into action, running to the curb and waving signs when a black sport utility vehicle approached in the 5700 block of 95th Street early Monday afternoon.
 
Both the signs and the matching yellow T-shirts worn by the three young entrepreneurs advertised strawberry lemonade available for 50 cents a cup.
 
The SUV driver looked at Hunter Bell, Carolina Cognasi and Dustin Zimmerman, but passed by without stopping. The three friends, who have gained quite a bit of experience in the lemonade business in recent weeks, don't seem disappointed. They know other potential customers will pass by, and they return to the shade near their lemonade stand to wait.
 
Children have been setting up summer lemonade stands for generations, but Hunter, Carolina and Dustin have put a new twist on the lemon. Rather than use the profits for such things as candy, movie tickets, comic books or video games, they are giving all of the money to charity.
 
Since summer vacation began, they have spent five Mondays selling lemonade from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thanks to a breakthrough day Monday and some generous donations by local businesses, they have now earned $868 for the Children's Home of Lubbock, and they're planning on setting up the stand for at least one or two more Mondays before summer ends.
 
"It was their idea to have a lemonade stand," said Tosha Bell, Hunter's mother. "They wanted to help other kids with the proceeds from it. That's how we thought of the Children's Home of Lubbock."
 
The three friends said they know the lives of some children aren't as good as theirs, and they want to help.
 
"What can you not love about kids on a hot day who are selling lemonade to help somebody they have never even met? I don't know of any better heart to have for anybody," said Lynn Harms, president of Children's Home of Lubbock.
 
The Children's Home is in its 55th year of helping children and predominately serves children who have been removed from their families because of child abuse or neglect, Harms said. It generally is helping about 140 to 150 children at a time with services that include emergency shelter and long-term care, he said.
 
The children are still buzzing about a businessman who had dropped off a $100 check to the Children's Home of Lubbock a few minutes earlier. As they talk about their mission to help other children, they are distracted from the street for a moment.
"Car!" warns Savannah Cognasi, Carolina's 10-year-old sister. They grab their signs and dash for the street, and this time a customer stops and gets out.  "How are you doing?" Matt Yugovich says as he hands them a $5 bill. "Are you going to give all of this money away?"
 
Yugovich jokes and chats with them before heading for his vehicle. As the kids are drawn away to greet a red Ford Mustang that's passing by, Yugovich expresses his admiration for the three 7-year-olds.  "These kids are out here raising money and giving it away to a cause that could not be more worthy. They are too young to know the impact they are making," he said.
 
The red Mustang drives past, but driver Shrae Hill turns around and comes back.
"I live down the street, and I always see them, so I decided to stop," she said.
When she is handed the clear plastic glass of lemonade, with strawberry and lemon slices floating in it, she takes a tentative sip.  "It's really good," she said.
 
The lemonade is the handiwork of Courtney Hill, a recent graduate of Ropes High School who is working as a babysitter for Hunter and Carolina this summer. It is made from a packaged drink mix.  "It is a lot of fun," Courtney Hill said. "I enjoy watching the kids have fun. I just make the lemonade, and they do the rest."
 
A white car pulls up to the curb, and Dustin talks to the driver. "Three cups," he yells excitedly back to his partners.  The young salespeople deliver the lemonade to the car. Shortly after the delivery, an SUV arrives with a father behind the wheel and two young children in the back seat. Another three cups sold.
 
That drains the pitcher, and Hill brings out another one to replenish the stock.  "Lemonade," Hunter and Dustin call to a jogger trotting by across the street, but he is listening to music as he runs and doesn't stop.  No matter. A blue pickup truck drives up with a customer, Tim Radkey, pastor of Hope Lutheran Church. As he sips his strawberry lemonade, Radkey reflects on the combination of entrepreneurial spirit and charity for others he sees before him.  "It's good to see a generous spirit in children so young who are helping other children," he said. "I'm hoping adults can profit from this example."
 
After Radkey leaves, a white compact car drives by, with the driver slowing a bit to see what is going on. "Lemonade," the kids yell as they run toward the car, waving their signs.
 
Reprinted courtesy of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal