‘I don’t think we realized just how much the community needed it as a whole’
The inaugural Mountainview LemonAid Day was a sweet celebration of how communities can band together and make a difference across Niagara.
“Despite the shaky weather on Sunday we still had a great turnout and some people even hosted their stands on Saturday,” said organizer Caroline Polgrabia.
Polgrabia is president of the Family and Children Services Foundation board, which worked in tandem with Mountainview Building Group to make the fundraiser happen.
All the money raised will be used to send kids in need to summer camps through Family and Children Services.
About 100 lemonade stands popped up across the region on June 11 and 12.
Polgrabia said more than $30,000 had been raised before the weekend even began, “which is amazing and a little overwhelming and humbling all at the same time.”
The total amount raised is still being calculated but she said many of the stands had exceeded their fundraising goals.
At Abby Davidson’s stand on Charlotte Street in Niagara-on-the-Lake, business was booming.
Davidson is interning with Mountainview, which sponsored the event and purchased all the supplies needed for the stands across the region.
“I thought, ‘Why not get our street together?’ We’re a pretty tight-knit community,” Davidson said in an interview Saturday.
That community provided plenty of support as about a dozen neighbours – from young kids to seniors – brought out lawn chairs, snacks and refreshments to spend the day at the lemonade stand.
As a reporter drove past the stand everyone started yelling and cheering and waving their arms encouraging the purchase of a cup of lemonade.
They were also offering cookies and someone brought along a barbecue.
“For our community, our little neighbourhood here — we refer to ourselves as ‘Irishtown’ because we’re on Flynn Street — it’s really great to have another reason to get together,” said resident Joy Janzen.
“I think, socially, COVID over the last two years is what really brought us together,” she said.
The Charlotte Street stand had something special going on and reached its $1,000 fundraising goal less than two hours after sales started.
Janzen recalled one heartwarming story from early in the day.
A young boy from Ottawa was in NOTL visiting his grandparents. They were out and about when they saw the lemonade stand and decided to stop in.
“He came by and he didn’t have any money on him.”
They gave him a lemonade on the house.
“He came back and he wanted to pay and the only money he had himself was his tooth fairy money,” Janzen said. “It was super cute.”
Unfortunately, the Irishtown gang did not get the boy’s name but Davidson provided The Lake Report with a picture of him at the stand.
Janzen said Davidson is one of the superstars of the neighbourhood – “A real academic and athletic overachiever” – and the community was eager to rally behind her.
Polgrabia said from reports she received the community involvement and morale produced by the event was high right across the region.
So high, in fact, that people have already been asking her what the plan is for next year.
“‘Oh, this was so much fun. We have so many ideas of how we want to do this next year,’” Polgrabia said, quoting some of the messages she received.
“Our lead sponsor, Mountainview Building Group, before we even got into the weekend were like, ‘OK, what’s our goal for next year?’ ”
Polgrabia said she was solely focused on making sure this year’s event went off without a hitch before turning her mind to the future.
There we’re two stands set up in the Old Town, one entirely run by girls and the other entirely by boys.
“They were competing and it was funny to just sit back as a parent and let the kids do their thing. Both stands exceeded their goals.”
One of the most amazing things about the experience was how eager kids were to do a good thing and raise money for children in need, she said.
Polgrabia’s son Jayden hosted a lemonade stand in 2018 to raise money for Family and Child Services Summer Smiles Campaign. That proved to be the genesis of the Mountainview LemonAid day.
“He is just overwhelmed at how many kids picked up on his original idea of the lemonade stand. When I first told him that there were going to be 90 stands across the region he was just like, ‘Whaaaaat?’”
She also stopped by the Charlotte Street stand on Saturday and said her heart went “pitter patter” when she saw how involved the neighbourhood was.
“I went up and there was an older couple there and I said, ‘Oh, is that somebody’s grandma and grandpa?’ And they answered, ‘No, it’s the neighbours from down the street. They just wanted to hang out.’ ”
Polgrabia said the huge response was bolstered by pandemic weariness.
“We knew it was great timing to get the kids out, get them engaged, get them with each other in an outdoor, safe environment.”
“But I don’t think we realized just how much the community needed it as a whole.”