To celebrate the last day of school, I got together with several other moms and our kids at a local park to eat snacks, play, and kick off our summer break. As we chatted, we briefly discussed having a lemonade stand to raise money for an organization that helps refugees, in response to counsel from the April 2016 general conference.
As the refugee crisis has intensified, each of us has taught our children about refugees, including them in our prayers each night. But we wanted an experience that would allow the kids to actually do something to act on our prayers. We decided to get them involved in this effort and help.
A few weeks after our chat, we gathered at my 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.
Squeezing all those fresh lemons for our lemonade concentrate was next on the agenda. We had four manual citrus juicers and one electric juicer. When we finally finished, we had gallons of lemon juice.
The next day we gathered again—this time to sell the lemonade. We set up the stand, mixed the lemonade, and made signs. Along with the lemonade, we sold cookies and candy using a stand that Lisa’s boys had previously built and painted. We made signs that said we would donate the proceeds to UNICEF so that our customers would know we were raising money for a cause.
The kids were such troopers, standing out there in the hot sun yelling, “Lemonade! Get your fresh lemonade!” Lucy, my five-year-old daughter, came up with a slogan: “Lemon Squeeze for Refugees!” It gave us all a good laugh. We had a great time, and we made just under $100 for the refugees. We raised an additional $30 at another lemonade stand a few weeks later.
We found out that UNICEF has an office in San Francisco, which is about an hour and a half from our town. We wanted the kids to have the experience of turning in the check themselves, so we called UNICEF and made an appointment. They were encouraging, even though I felt that our contribution was small. They scheduled a conference room for us, and when we got there, they showed the kids a slideshow about what they do at UNICEF and exactly how our donation would go toward helping refugees. Going into the meeting, I was worried $130 was not very much and couldn’t do much to help. Boy, was I wrong! Vaccines are only $0.18. UNICEF can use pennies to donate mosquito nets, water jugs, purification tablets, and nutrition packets. Our money was going to go a lot further than I had imagined.
Since then, we’ve continued to reach out. Every year, our neighborhood has a Halloween party. We decided to have a drink stand with apple cider and root beer. We didn’t charge people by the cup—we just asked for donations. At the stand, I displayed a poster board with pictures and information about UNICEF. We had a goal of raising $75, and we ended up making $111.
My family moves around the country for my husband’s job. I’m going to take this experience with us everywhere we go. This experience taught me to find fun little ways to continue to reach out. It may seem small, but we’re doing something to back up our prayers for the refugees. There are others who need our help, and we have the power to do something about it.