The value of a glass of lemonade sure has gone up.
On a recent Saturday, over a span of four hours, some 225 Greenwich kids manning16 lemonade stands across town raised $12,000 to help some of New York City's neediest children. The Greenwich kids were taking part in LemonAid, an idea started by Greenwich's Paul Tudor Jones' Robin Hood Foundation nine years ago, which has since raised nearly a million dollars for the fight against poverty.
"These kids who participated were simply awesome," said Kimberly Clarke, who brought the LemonAid idea to town and helped organize the event held on June 1. Clarke's four children, Aiden, 11, Maddie, 10, Neeley, 9, and Jip, 8, signed on as LemonAid volunteers.
With LemonAid stands located from Belle Haven to backcountry, from Millbrook to Bruce Park, there was creativity aplenty on view to attract customers. Handpainted lemonade jars offered lemonade in various hues, and one stand featured hand-painted shells and jewelry available with donations. Even an ice cream truck was commandeered for the cause. The young volunteers -- from ages 6 to 16 -- were all wearing LemonAid branded blue T-shirts.
"We were popping with pride with them all," said Clarke, whose husband, Chris Clarke, personally guided Robin Hood founder Jones around to each local LemonAid stand. "Paul spoke to the kids about poverty, and thanked them for their efforts," she said, "and of course he bought lemonade!"
It was at a Robin Hood Foundation fundraiser in New York City on May 13 that the Clarkes attended with Jones that Kimberly Clarke learned of the LemonAid effort and how it was started in 2004 by kids in Manhattan wanting to contribute to those in need. She brought the idea home to her kids and after two weeks of frenzied organizing, the Clarkes had enough volunteers for 16 stands. "The mothers of Greenwich really stepped up," she said.
Next year, Clarke hopes to have 100 stands, complete with an end-of-the-day celebration concert for all the kids involved, with prizes and a chance for them to "come together around philanthropy."
"The Robin Hood Foundation has created a way to teach our children about giving back," said Clarke, "that even a simple glass of lemonade allows them to participate in philanthropy and learn that even at this age they can make a difference."
For more information about LemonAid visit www.robinhood.org/lemonaid.