July 31, 2018

An American tradition becomes a story of a community coming together

What’s more American than a kid opening a lemonade stand to earn some pocket money? That’s what Gladstone resident Gina and her son, Jacob, thought when they decided to try their hands at small business this summer. After eyeing a lemonade stand at Sam’s Club for weeks, Jacob’s older sister surprised him with the stand as a birthday present. On June 28th, he set it up, armed with a plucky spirit and homemade lemonade made by mom, Gina. His intention? To earn enough money to get the air conditioning fixed in the family transportation, a minivan. 

And that should have been the end of the story. However, a few flies were about to enter the anointment. One of his first customers, a couple in a car that refused to get out, asked for two glasses of lemonade and after receiving the glasses (delivered to the car, no less) they demanded to see Jacob’s permit for operation. 

Both mother and son were floored. Did they need a permit? Since when was a permit necessary for a lemonade stand in their own front yard? Flabbergasted, Gina took to Facebook to vent a little on a community group, KC North News and Info. To her surprise, her frustrations were met with overwhelming support from the group, including suggestions of contacting Country Time Lemonade for legal aid. 

Soon after, more concrete encouragement arrived in the form of the men and women in blue. Having heard about the incident, several government organizations including the Gladstone Fire and Rescue, Gladstone Police Department, and the Clay County Sheriff, among others. Local news agencies picked up the story and Jacob and his homemade lemonade stand quickly became an overnight success. 

But what is success in the lemonade business? Well, as of this writing, Jacob had earned $68 from his .50 cups of lemonade. (Gina may or may not have been in the red from materials, but encouraging Jacob was more important than profit.) And instead of paying for the air conditioning in the van, he has donated a portion of the proceeds to a missions group at his church, Sheffield Family Life Center. 

“I want more kids to be able to hear about Jesus,” says Jacob. 

Pretty selfless for an 8-year-old! And while he may not have earned enough to fix the van, God still answered his prayer. Community members gathered together and worked with a local mechanic to fix the van’s AC, a blessing that the whole family can enjoy, attests Gina. 

For Gina, the experience has shown her the good and the bad in the world. “Some people have been really kind and others haven’t. We’ve had kids throw apples at the stand. I’ve had radio shows say nasty things about the lemonade, that it wasn’t clean. But I’ve also had some people be really kind,” she says as a truck of regulars drives slowly by, looking for Jacob’s wares. 

Gina says that the real profit in this entire venture has been quality time with her son. “That’s why I really wanted to support him–it was never about the money for me. It was about sitting in the heat with my son, getting to know him a little better, and making memories that will last a lifetime. As parents, it’s easy to let kids do their own thing at a certain age but I want to really enjoy the time that I have with him now,” she says. 

A mother’s love and a cold glass of lemonade–what’s better on a hot summer day? Jacob’s stand will be open on specific days through the end of the summer and Gina says that the future is open. “Maybe it will turn into Jacob’s hot chocolate stand in the winter!”