My friend Helaine Olen, who used to blog right here at Ye Olde Strollerderby, appeared on Marketplace Money this weekend to discuss the pressure her son Jake is under to make his for-profit lemonade stand a charity organization. She says, “Some of Jake’s patrons are dissatisfied — and not with the quality of his lemonade. They want him to donate his sales’ proceeds to charity. Many ask what cause their money is going to as they pay their tab, and are shocked when they hear it’s his own bank account.”
Olen thinks that’s ridiculous. She writes, “Philanthropic lemonade stands are admirable, but they should not be the default for our kids’ summer fun. Lemonade stands teach our children valuable lessons on how to run a small business, an activity as classically American as, well, the lemonade stand. To expect more than that seems as joyless and humorless as much else in modern parenting, where everything, it seems, needs to be for some greater goal.”
I totally agree. I’m curious about what exactly is driving that feeling on the part of Jake’s patrons. I can’t even imagine walking up to a kid’s lemonade stand and expecting that my money go to a children’s hospital. I bought A LEMON-FLAVORED ICE CUBE off of a group of little girls on the streets of Chinatown last summer for a dollar. The cube was meant to cost 50 cents but I told them to keep the change because I admired their moxie. If you’re out hustling like that on a hot day, you deserve some paper!
As someone who is frequently underpaid for my services, I spend a lot of time encouraging myself not to be afraid to make money. In other words, I am constantly reminding myself that I don’t have to be as charitable as I am. Maybe from a wealthy person’s perspective, buying a dollar lemonade and knowing that money is going to a “good cause” is enough to assuage their guilt about exploiting others for monetary gain, I don’t know. I don’t know anything about these patrons that are complaining. I’m broke, so maybe I’m just assuming they’re rich because I’m bitter. Like lemonade. But I wish my parents had taught me to expect more from life when I was Jake’s age. That way I wouldn’t be feeling the squeeze now. (Get it? Squeeze? Thank you, I’ll be here all night! Working … sigh.)
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