Daycare lemonade stand fights epilepsy one sip at a time
On a sunny Monday morning, a group of kids is gathered around a tree, rear ends pointed barkward, tongues stuck out and raspberry noises sputtering from their mouth.
Possibly this fake flatulence is directed at a spider sitting on the tree. Possibly they’re directed at the tree itself. Either way, this is what community service looks like at Bizzy Bugz daycare.
Well, it’s not the entire picture. The real philanthropy is taking place a few feet away, at a wooden lemonade stand given as a gift to Bizzy Bugz owner Becky LaBeau. From last week through early August the kids will sell lemonade and suckers as a fundraiser for the Epilepsy Foundation.
Even that isn’t the full story, though. LaBeau has made giving back a big part of her curriculum this summer. So far this month kids have written thank-you letters to garbage men, firefighters and police officers. They’ve drawn pictures for the mail carrier and picked up trash along neighborhood streets. LaBeau said she’s challenged the kids to do something different every week to put a smile on someone’s face.The lemonade stand is at the center of that. When LaBeau got it as a gift, she knew she wanted to take advantage.“I thought, we should use this for the daycare so it’s put to good use because it’s super cute,” she said.LaBeau asked her daycare kids what charity they wanted to help with their sales. They decided quickly on the Epilepsy Foundation.The cause has a special place at Bizzy Bugz. LaBeau’s niece was born with several medical issues, one of which was epilepsy. She died the day before her second birthday.The lemonade stand fundraiser will end just before the Epilepsy Foundation’s annual funsraising walk at Lake Phalen. The daycare kids will be invited to attend the walk and present the money they have raised.If things keep going the way they have, that check could be significant by the time August rolls around. When LaBeau asked the kids to set a goal, they thought for a minute, then picked $100. LaBeau thought that was ambitious, with lemonade going for 50 cents a cup and suckers for a quarter.Four days in, though, they had already collected $104.Most of the sales have been to the kids’ families, but there has been a lot of outside interest, too. Kids sold lemonade to families on the way to the park. They sold to the driver of a street sweeper. Kids riding by on bikes have pedaled home to get change to buy a sucker.Kids happily serve up plastic cups of lemonade through open car windows.“It’s kind of cool,” LaBeau said. “One of the kids said it’s the best lemonade she’s ever had. Even better than from a store.”Some of the kids are too young to completely understand the meaning of what they’re doing each day at their lemonade stand — see the tree story at the beginning of this story — but LaBeau said some of the older kids are getting into the idea.“Our school-agers definitely understand, and they’re very excited and they’re very proud right now of what they’ve accomplished so far,” LaBeau said. “It’s actually more than I ever thought they would understand. The little ones don’t really get it. They get that we’re doing something kind. I keep having to tell them we’re raising money for other people. Even though they don’t understand it completely, they’re learning.”While they learn, they’re having fun.The Bizzy Bugz lemonade stand is open a couple of times a day at the corner of 198th Street and English Avenue.