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LemonAid for the Gulf

Kids across the South are making lemonade to help wildlife affected by the oil spill.

by Erin Z. Bass

It’s a story as old as time: a brother and sister decide to open a summertime lemonade stand. But this time their motive involved much more than boredom or earning a buck for the ice cream truck. In Alexandria, Louisiana, 8-year-old Mark Terrillion and his 6-year-old sister, Lizette, wanted to help the pelicans affected by the oil spill and set up shop in front of their aunt’s gift shop, Southern Chic, on a Wednesday morning. In addition to lemonade, the kids also sold baked goods and t-shirts printed with lemons and the saying, “LemonAid for the Gulf.” The stand was a hit, with shirts going fast and other kids coming with their piggy banks to donate. More shirts were printed the next day, and by Friday, the kids had raised over $2,000.

Since appearing on CNN with Anderson Cooper, Mark and Lizette have inspired kids all over the South to get on board and open their own stands. Outside of Alexandria, the city of Pineville was first with a stand in front of Fleur de Lis Boutique on Father’s Day weekend. Acworth, Georgia, followed with a stand the next Friday, as did Ville Platte, Louisiana, this past Saturday. The LemonAid for the Gulf Facebook page has more requests from a Boy Scout troop in Florida, church in Illinois and t-shirt orders from Canada.

Deep South headed out to zydeco country in Ville Platte on Saturday to see the “lemon-aid” firsthand. Despite the high temperature, eight kids were manning the booth, some pouring lemonade, one selling baked goods and another handling the money. In between breaks, a few would run out to the streetcorner with signs to drum up business. Lemonade and cookies were $1 each, while t-shirts in lime green and tan colors were $24 for adults and $18 for kids. A donation bucket was also set out on the table, and several people drove up just to hand a few dollars over to the cause.

Southern Chic co-owner Shelley Johnson says groups who want to set up their own stand can contact her for t-shirts and graphics for fliers and signs. She forsees the effort lasting through the summer and possibly longer. “It’s however much iniative people want to take,” she says. “When school starts, that’s an opportunity to do something bigger. The sky’s the limit.”

Jenn Meylian decided to head up the Ville Platte stand because she felt like she needed to do something about the oil spill. “Lindsey [her daughter who was in charge of selling cookies] learned about the brown pelican and Louisiana at school this year,” she says. “When she gets older, it might be gone.” “If we don’t do something, we can’t expect anybody else to,” chimes in Johnson. “It’s been heartwarming to get calls from across the country. They’re saying, ‘that’s our Gulf.'”

The Ville Platte stand raised over $1,000 on Saturday, bringing the LemonAid for the Gulf total to more than $14,000. LemonAid for the Gulf t-shirts are available at lemonaidforthegulf.com, and a calendar of stands and the opportunity to donate to a fund at Red River Bank are coming to the site soon. The organization is also working on getting nonprofit status, so donations will be tax-deductible. See more photos from Ville Platte on Flickr.

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