Summer and lemonade go hand in hand. The hot weather tradition of hosting lemonade stands is fun for everyone, and a common childhood memory. Kicking it up a notch, the kids of Kitchissippi joined the rest of Ottawa on June 22 and turned their sweet business ventures into a fundraiser for childhood cancer research.
“The fundraiser is called the Great Canadian Lemonade Standemonium, and this is the event, there’s people having stands all over Ottawa today,” says Lindsay Firestone. She is sitting down on a bench in front of John’s Quick Lunch as her kids run around on the sidewalk in front of her. Behind them, the lemonade stand is selling cookies, and three varieties of fresh zesty flavours.
All the children are dressed in yellow t-shirts with the fundraiser logos on the front; energetic, despite the early start they had this morning.
“I am part of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation so we have been working on a few events and this is one we wanted to have to have kids involved,” she says. Firestone spent months visiting classrooms across the city to pitch the event to principles, teachers and kids.
“When we go into a classroom what we find is when we ask kids if they know anybody who has been touched by cancer almost ninety-five per cent of them raise their hands,” she says. “Whether it’s a teacher or a grandparent or a friend, what we’ve been finding is a lot of kids say they want to help and they don’t know how,” she says.
The fundraiser gives the kids a chance to get involved, and feel empowered in the process of helping something that affects so many people.
When approached with the idea Tony Hatoum owner of John’s Quick lunch and his wife Antonella Hatoum, who teaches at St. George, jumped at the opportunity to set up a stand in front of their restaurant.
“We knew we wanted to have one, Lindsay knew she wanted to have one, so we buddied up and put together a team effort,” says Antonella. “Tony built this great nostalgic barn board lemonade stand. It’s getting lots of feedback from people walking by and the customers, so definitely drawing the attention,” she says.
Antonella talked about the event at St. George, and her students were very receptive. She even has some competition down the road. “some of my students are set up at the natural food pantry, so they have their own going on,” she says.
Both Antonella and Firestone are excited about the communities involvement, and predict sweet success for the fundraiser.
“We just had the Mayor here to do an official ribbon cutting, so he opened our lemonade stand,” says Firestone. “I think if you get communities together they really want to help out,” she says.
“People have been super generous with their donations. There’s lots of twenties in there, twenty dollars is pretty generous for a glass of lemonade, I think,” says Antonella.