Kids across the South are making lemonade to help wildlife affected by the oil spill.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Written by Erin Z. Bass
It’s a story as old as time: A brother and sister decide to open a summertime lemonade stand. But this time their motive involved much more than boredom or earning a buck for the ice cream truck. In Alexandria, 8-year-old Mark Terrillion and his 6-year-old sister, Lizette, wanted to help the pelicans affected by the oil spill and set up shop in front of their aunt’s gift shop, Southern Chic, on a Wednesday morning. In addition to lemonade, the kids also sold baked goods and T-shirts printed with lemons and the saying, “LemonAid for the Gulf.” The stand was a hit, with shirts going fast and other kids coming with their piggy banks to donate. More shirts were printed the next day, and by Friday, the kids had raised more than $2,000.
Since appearing on CNN with Anderson Cooper, Mark and Lizette have inspired kids all over the South to get on board and open their own stands. Outside of Alexandria, the city of Pineville was first with a stand in front of Fleur de Lis Boutique on Father’s Day weekend. Acworth, Ga., followed with a stand the next Friday, as did Ville Platte on June 26. (The LemonAid for the Gulf Facebook page has more requests from a Boy Scout troop in Florida, church in Illinois and T-shirt orders from Canada.)
Despite the high temperatures in zydeco country of Ville Platte last month, eight kids manned the booth on Main Street, some pouring lemonade, one selling baked goods and another handling the money. In between breaks, a few would run out to the street corner with signs to drum up business. Lemonade and cookies were $1 each, while T-shirts in lime green and tan colors were $24 for adults and $18 for kids. A donation bucket was also set out on the table, and several people drove up just to hand a few dollars over to the cause. Southern Chic co-owner Shelley Johnson says groups that want to set up their own stand can contact her for T-shirts and graphics for fliers and signs. She foresees the effort lasting through the summer and possibly longer. “It’s however much initiative people want to take,” she says. “When school starts, that’s an opportunity to do something bigger. The sky’s the limit.”
Jenn Meylian decided to head up the Ville Platte stand because she felt like she needed to do something about the oil spill. “Lindsey [her daughter who was in charge of selling cookies] learned about the brown pelican and Louisiana at school this year,” she says. “When she gets older, it might be gone.”
“If we don’t do something, we can’t expect anybody else to,” chimes in Johnson. “It’s been heartwarming to get calls from across the country. They’re saying, ‘That’s our Gulf.’”
The Ville Platte stand raised more than $1,000, bringing the LemonAid for the Gulf total to more than $14,000. LemonAid for the Gulf T-shirts are available at lemonaidforthegulf.com, and a calendar of stands and the opportunity to donate to a fund at Red River Bank are coming to the site soon. The organization is also working on getting nonprofit status, so donations will be tax-deductible. All funds go to Louisiana State University’s Wildlife Hospital of Louisiana, Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research and Audubon Nature Institute.
This story was first published on www.deepsouthmag.com, an online magazine started by former Independent Staff Writer Erin Z. Bass as a way to connect people living across the South through news, culture, events, travel and more. To see a video and more photos from the Ville Platte LemonAid for the Gulf stand, visit www.deepsouthmag.com.
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