By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Not since the days of “Leave it Beaver” and “The Little Rascals” has a lemonade stand sparked such a buzz. Three children from Kankakee, Ill., took on the entrepreneurial challenge of their aunt and ended up raising nearly $300 for the Millington Crisis Center.
Cousins Maliyah Doggett and Zyaire Mitchell, both 8 years old, joined forces with Zyaire’s 4-year-old sister Denise to operate the Three Lemon Heads Lemonade Stand in the front yard of Tonya Doggett.
“We were trying to raise money for the Crisis Center,” Zyaire said. “We wanted to help those in need. Our auntie is teaching us how to value work and helping people.”
The trio’s annual trip to visit aunt Tonya became an exercise in running a business and developing a charitable spirit. The hard work of the children results in $606 raised.
Aunt Tonya had to use $36 for addition expenses to run the stand. The official profits were $570. The trio of partners agreed to take half of the proceeds and give the other 50% to the Crisis Center.
“I’m speechless,” Millington Crisis Center executive director Debra Sigee said. “I feel so honored. It’s so great to know these young people thought of us to give back. What they’re doing is more than some of our businesses do for the Crisis Center. This is just straight up awesome.
“I had read my email and was thrilled to learn the Millington Crisis Center received a Community Grant from Walmart and our grant is under review with Republic Services,” she continued. “Hours later I received a call about the children having a lemonade stand and half their proceeds were going to go to the Millington Crisis Center.”
Sigee and Crisis Center’s Patricia Warner were on hand for a ceremonial check presentation by the children.
“My husband and I made a point to go patronize and meet the young entrepreneurs working a lemonade stand and unselfishly wanted to give back to the community,” Sigee recalled. “It warmed my heart the Crisis Center was the chosen organization to receive half their proceeds when they close their business for the summer. I thank and appreciate everyone that visited the ‘The Three Lemon Heads Lemonade Stand’ to donate any amount for a refreshing cup of lemonade or purchase candy.
“People believe the Crisis Center receive local, state or federal funding and we do not,” she added. “The operation and maintenance of the Crisis Center is strictly based on the generosity of children like “The Three Lemon Heads Lemonade Stand”, organizations, businesses, individuals and churches. Along with the Crisis Center fundraiser at Goat Days and the upcoming Second Annual Battle of the Blues September 28.”
Sigee and Warner thanked the children and Maliyah, Zyaire and Denise gave the women insight on their business.
“We sold lemonade,” Denise said. “I handed out the receipts.”
The youngest Denise became known as “The Thank You Girl.” Meanwhile her brother had a trusted position.
“I handled the money,” he said.
There cousin Maliyah maybe had the most important role to customers.
“I handed out the lemonade,” she said.
Also assisting the children in their business venture was Mary Heburn building the stand. Aunt Tonya did the background work keeping up with inventory and preparing the lemonade.
“It was something different to do,” Tonya said. “It was something for them to look back on and say I had my first job in the summer at the age of 8. I had my first job at 4. It was to give them skills, people skills.
“It helped them know how to handle a job, knowing you have to get up and be there,” she continued. “All that stuff is something I want them to understand. You want to make money but also be able to give back to your community.”
Those who stopped by the lemonade stand enjoyed the trip down memory lane. Tonya was glad the children got a life lesson out of the experience.
“They don’t need for anything,” she said. “I provide for all their needs. So we thought, why not give back. I wanted it to be local. So I thought of the Crisis Center.
“The stand just took everybody back,” Tonya added. “Everybody was laughing and reminiscing. Some would just stop and give a donation even when they didn’t want lemonade.”
The children said they learned the value of hard work and why it is important to give back at the end of the three weeks.
“First and foremost I hope they learn to give back and to work,” Aunt Tonya said. “Knowing they didn’t want to get up a lot of the time because it’s their summer. It’s supposed to be fun and games. But you get back over to your lemonade stand because you’ve got customers. You have to get back over to your job for two hours. You have a job to do.
Sigee said the Crisis Center is proud of the hard work displayed by the children and grateful for their generosity.
“Less than one percent of the businesses and churches in the area the Crisis Center provide services to their employees and members financially support the Crisis Center,” she said. “My hope from what children who worked hard this summer at their lemonade stand will inspire businesses and churches who had stopped years ago or never financially supported the Crisis Center will consider doing so on an annual or monthly basis.
“No amount is too small or too large,” Sigee added. “Life can be going perfect one day, but an unforeseen crisis can disrupt an individual or family life dramatically the next day regardless of your financial status.”
Sigee concluded charity starts at home and what Tonya taught her nieces and nephew will bless Millington today and into the future.
“I want to thank them for the bottom of my heart for what they did I appreciate the grant we received from Walmart,” she said. “But this is more touching because this is something I wouldn’t think any child would think of doing.”