What started with my four year old, some lemons, and a story about raising money to buy solar cookers in Africa . . . turned into four years as the Captain of the Lemonade Stand Project for Big Sunday – a wonderful community organization in Los Angeles. (You should look them up!) During our first year, we worked with 75 volunteers, mostly children, running 20 lemonade stands across Los Angeles all raising money for local children’s charities.
Over the following years, our numbers kept growing. And by the 4th year, we had over 2000 volunteers manning 150 lemonade stands across the city during a span of 48 hours. Although we raised several hundred dollars that year, I found myself disappointed because the amount of money raised was disproportionate to the number of volunteer hours worked. The end result didn’t seem worth the huge amount of effort we all put into it. After all, wasn’t the money the main event? However, when I looked more closely, I realized it was never about the money at all.
The very act of giving was what mattered the most. I saw it on their faces – on the faces of the kids who volunteered and on the faces of those who stopped by for a 25 cent cup of lemonade. People stuffed our donation jars with coins, $1 dollar bills, $20 bills and whatever they had in their pockets. A car of strangers drove by, rolled down the window, and handed us more bottles of lemonade to sell – just because they wanted to help. Other kids asked if they could help by holding up signs and joyfully rounding up customers. And a child who bought a cup of lemonade returned to give us the $10 bill she found in the parking lot on the walk back to the car.
When you give, something inside of you transforms. Giving generates happiness to both the giver and the receiver. And the good news is that every person, from every walk of life, has something to give whether it’s a sandwich, a smile, or a shoulder to lean on. With so many of our neighbors in need of goods, services or simply companionship, now is the time to use our unique skills and resources to collaborate and experience the joy of giving. With The Giving Express, we provide the creative vehicle for this exchange. We open up a space for people to express their commitment to making a difference and for others to be nourished by that gift. With different Pop Up Giving Events throughout the year, The Giving Express can provide art supplies for underprivileged schools, suitcases for children shuttling in and out of the foster care system, and diapers for babies in shelters . . . the list is truly endless.
Every day we are witness to countless acts of kindness and generosity when we just take the time to notice. But when we work together to harness this amazing power of giving, that’s when we can change the world. We’ve got the lemons, now let’s go make some lemonade . . .