“Not a single creature on earth has more or less right to be here.” – Anthony Douglas Williams
It was a chilly, overcast Saturday in spring when I decided to open a lemonade stand at the end of my street. I remember how excited I was, but none of my fifth-grade friends were available to help, so I took it upon myself to proceed. My parents were surprised I was set on such a task considering the weather, and knowing how quiet our neighborhood could be. They watched me move around the kitchen, helping gather supplies out of reach and mix the powdered drinks.
I was determined, and I knew my mission. I decorated a poster board, clearly marking what I was selling and for how much. In bold letters, I added, “all money goes to help the animals.”
I stayed out in the sun for what seemed like ages. By the end of the day, I felt my pride growing as I carried my money cup to the house. I counted and recounted my earnings on the living room carpet. It totaled nearly twenty dollars; just a few cents off. I sealed the bills, loose change, and a piece of paper listing the total in a zip-lock bag.
With the baggie tightly gripped in my hand, I marched to my next door neighbor’s house. I knew she fostered cats and worked with an animal rescue group. As soon as she opened the door, I held out my meager donation and saw tears brimming in the corners of her eyes. She thanked me with such sincerity.
To this day, I can still hear her voice in my head. My neighbor even invited me to an adoption event her organization was hosting to donate the money in person. I got to see the cats and dogs up for adoption, some of whom were going home with new families that day, while others had to continue to wait for their forever homes. Seeing these animals, tangible evidence of where my hard earned money was going, made the whole process feel real. I imagined what my money could do to help; feed them, or provide warm blankets, or toys to make them feel loved.
It seems like a minuscule act, managing a simple lemonade stand, but the experience let me understand the impact of a small act of kindness. I learned just how far one good deed could reach. I know that whether it’s a dollar donated to a cause at the local supermarket, a few cans left out for the mailman during a food bank collection, or used clothes passed on to a shelter, no good deed goes unfelt. While a donation may seem nominal, its true value will be appreciated as the money is tallied up, food is served at a soup kitchen, and jackets are passed around in winter.
My eleven year old self transformed an ordinary Saturday into something meaningful. My hard work at the lemonade stand became a cornerstone of my values, the outcomes of which reach beyond my comprehension.