When tragedy strikes, most people think, I would love to help, but I’m just one person, what could I possibly do?
Well, three boys in New York City are showing the country just how much one person — not to mention three little people — can do with a generous heart and some hard work.
In the midst of New York City’s annual Pride Parade on Sunday, June 26, Sam Bernstein, Finn Madden, and Dean Haines opened a lemonade stand to earn money to benefit the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting.
Like many people, the boys’ parents considered lots of ways that they could support the LGBT community, especially in the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting. And they didn’t have to look far for inspiration.
“We live in Greenwich Village, where we are incredibly fortunate to have so many diverse people and lifestyles celebrated all around us,” Michelle Madden tells Babble. “Prejudice is learned — it is not innate. If every 4-year-old today was taught tolerance, think of the world we could look forward to … ”
With that philosophy in mind, along with a generosity of spirit, the families set out to find a way to help the victims of Orlando, and teach their children to celebrate diversity at the same time. Knowing that the boys love playing store, eating and drinking anything with sugar, and making people happy, their parents thought a lemonade stand would be a great opportunity to bring the community together while instilling in their children some valuable lessons about giving back wherever and whenever possible.
“I told Sam that we were going to have a chance to do many special things all at once,” Stephanie Bernstein tells Babble. “We were going to celebrate life and celebrate love by sharing some of the things that make us happiest. And we were going to try and make some money to help people who were no longer able to do this because of a terrible tragedy in Orlando.”
For $1, customers were treated to a cup of lemonade and a rainbow cookie, with all of the profits donated to the victims of the Orlando shooting. The boys earned $137 on Sunday, but the outpouring of support hasn’t stopped there. Since their story went public, several people have contacted the families to donate additional funds. As of Monday afternoon, the boys donated a total of $250 to Orlando victims — nearly half of which was provided by a woman who tracked the parents down after she read the boys’ story.
“The boys loved being responsible for the ‘store,’ and took greater pride in knowing they were doing something to help others,” said Bernstein. “Being surrounded by rainbows and cookies didn’t hurt, either.”
Needless to say, the response from the community has been overwhelming. The families didn’t know what to expect going into the event, and worried about whether people would even stop to talk to the boys while the parade was going on, or if the boys could even manage the store — without eating and drinking all the goods they were selling, of course.
But despite the somewhat somber mood as a result of the Orlando tragedy, the parents tell Babble it was “a beautiful day and experience for everyone.” Many people stopped to talk to the boys, take a photo with them, and share their rainbow flags and necklaces.
“I think we got more out of it than everyone else,” said Bernstein. “We feel like we should be the ones saying thanks!”
The boys’ earnings have since been donated to the victims of the Orlando shooting and their parents urge anyone who would still like to contribute to the victims to donate directly to a Go Fund Me page set up by others in the wake of the Orlando shooting. To date, that fund has earned over $6 million.