VALPARAISO | As lemonade stands go, it was a resounding success, generating more than $200 in just two hours. But Wednesday's effort wasn't a typical kid's beverage sale, and it's now snowballed into a much larger relief effort for those affected by the tornado strike in Oklahoma.
Apparently the idea for Lemonade for Oklahoma started with Polly Murphy and her children, Stella, 6, and Harrison, 9, students at Memorial Elementary School. On Wednesday they raised $232.84 to help the relief effort in a two-hour period after school.
"We watch the news all the time, and it gives my husband (City Economic Development Director Matt Murphy) and I a chance to talk to them about a tragedy that happens," Polly Murphy said. "I know they are going to hear about it in school, but I want them to hear about it from me to eliminate the fear of it happening to them."
She picked up the kids from Memorial 10 minutes early Wednesday and set up the stand in front of their house, which is across from Ben Franklin Middle School. It was an unusual lemonade stand in that it offered lemonade and cookies, but no price was placed on them. Instead, they asked for donations only.
"The most common thing we heard was people didn't have a ton of money to give, but, if they pooled it and put $5 or $10 in the jar, they felt like they were contributing. It was amazing how many Ben Franklin students had a dollar left at the end of the day and gave it without taking anything."
The success of the lemonade stand was posted on the Internet by a friend and the idea of Lemonade for Oklahoma is spreading locally. Polly Murphy said a friend plans to have one at a softball game and other friends are planning similar lemonade-aid projects.
Amanda Rose and her 5-year-old son Jake will be selling 25-cent glasses of lemonade at Lifestyles on Friday from noon to 3 p.m. with the money to be given to Save the Children. Lemonade for Oklahoma organizers urge people to give the money to the charity of their choice.
In an e-mail to The Times, Amanda Rose said her son was very affected after seeing the reports of the disaster on the news and asked a lot of questions about the "tomatoes" that destroyed Moore, Okla. He was especially worried about the children, he told his mother.
"He asked me if he could give his toys to the kids," Rose wrote. "I told him 'yes,' and he asked me how he would get them up in the sky (aka heaven). I told him there were children here that needed help still. I have a lemonade stand, so I told Jake we could sell some lemonade and give the money to the children."
Several businesses, including Walmart, Target, Strack and Van Til and Simko Signs, donated lemonade powder, cups and other things needed for the stand. When contacted for help, Lifestyles owner Renee Blosky offered the use of the store, 122 E. Lincolnway.
The Murphys also will be taking their lemonade stand on the road that day. They were invited by Valpo Velvet owner Cathy Brown to set up the stand at the business during a concert fundraiser to be held on the back dock.
The concert was organized by the Alliance of Students Against Poverty, a group of high school students, some of whom work at Valpo Velvet, to raise money for the Hilltop House Food Pantry.
Brown said she saw the Facebook post about the Murphys' stand and thought it would be good to join forces. The concert will feature three local bands, and a donation of $5 is asked for the pantry.
Then stop by the lemonade stand to sweeten the pot for the tornado victims.