Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bringing Aid with Lemonade: A Hurricane Sandy Story

Written by Amy Yen, volunteer contributor

As you know, the American Red Cross has had a busy couple of weeks. So far in our massive relief response to Superstorm Sandy, we’ve served more than 4.8 million meals and snacks, provided more than 70,100 overnight stays at shelters, made more than 43,800 health services and emotional support contacts and handed out more than 477,700 relief items in ten states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

We’ve been able to do all of this because of the incredible outpouring of support from Americans all over the country. This includes two boys in Fort Worth who set out to make a difference with the most iconic of American youth traditions: the lemonade stand.

Thomas Danzi and Jack Fulton, both five years old, earned nearly $1,000 with their lemonade stand, which they donated to the American Red Cross’s disaster relief efforts.

Thomas and Jack at their lemonade stand benefitting the American Red Cross.

 When Thomas wanted to set up a stand, his mother, Katie Danzi, suggested they donate the funds to help others. Although, Thomas might have a little different idea of what the money is being used for.

“I asked him, ‘Do you think the people from the hurricane would need the money?’” said Katie, “And he said, ‘Yeah Mama, we’ll send it to all of them so they can buy dump trucks!’”

Katie said they did their research on where their money would make the biggest difference: “I’ve been keeping up with updates about the hurricane and there’s been a lot of debate about who the best organization was to give your money to to help. The consensus was the Red Cross was on the ground and was the most visible presence there, so that’s why we decided to go with them.”

So, armed with cookies, lemonade and homemade receipts made with Lego stickers, the boys set up shop in their neighborhood. The response was astounding.

“It was really amazing how generous everyone was. A lot of people weren’t really stopping to get the lemonade. They were just pulling up and giving us $20 bills and someone gave us a $100 bill,” said Katie. “We had signs that had Red Cross on them and I don’t really think people really needed to know any more than that. They were comfortable with where the money was going. People were very, very generous.”

All in all, the lemonade stand was a great success. Not only did it earn $947 toward the Red Cross’s Sandy relief efforts, Thomas and Jack learned the money went toward a little more than dump trucks.

Thomas and Jack make their first donation to the Red Cross after a tour of the Chisholm Trail Chapter from American Red Cross North Texas Region CEO, T.D. Smyers. They did see trucks!

 “We had a box where we were putting the money and sometimes people would ask Thomas and Jack, ‘Hey guys, where’s the money going?’ and they would say, ‘In the box.’ But I think they got it in the end. It was a great life lesson,” said Katie. “That’s why, when we went to the Red Cross office to drop off the money, we wanted to make sure to bring them so they could grasp where the money was going and why, and that they saw all the pictures of the devastation and what the Red Cross was doing to help.”
It made an impression: “Thomas asked when we could do another lemonade stand and I said, I don’t know, and he said, ‘Maybe when there’s a tornado?’ He was already thinking of how to help at the next disaster.”

It turns out, Thomas and Jack’s lemonade stand made an even bigger difference than just the money they raised. Katie shared a picture of the stand on a Facebook page for Jersey Shore Hurricane News, where it quickly liked more than 1,350 times and shared more than 1,300 times. It gave hope to people in the area and even inspired several other lemonade stands around the country.

Relief efforts for Superstorm Sandy are ongoing. More than 4,500 people remain in shelters and Emergency Response Vehicles continue to serve hot meals and give out supplies on the ground. If you’d like to donate, you can visit RedCross.org or text REDCROSS to 90999 for a fast $10 donation. Thank you again to everyone who’s already generously donated!

3 comments:

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