Lemonade challenge created huge benefit from small gift

08/26/2014 6:06 PM

08/26/2014 6:08 PM

When Laney Boeger operated a lemonade stand with her friends this summer, she was delighted to earn nearly $3. That was a lot of money, the 8-year-old from Leawood thought.

Instead of splurging on ice cream or a trinket from the mall, she proudly handed her $2.90 to Marillac, an Overland Park treatment center for children and adolescents challenged with psychiatric conditions.

“I just wanted to help those kids feel better,” Laney said.

That $2.90 quickly grew to $300, much to her astonishment.

Employees at Marillac were so touched by Laney’s modest donation that they started a Lemonade Challenge on the nonprofit organization’s website, encouraging the community to match her amount.

“For an 8-year-old to want to help other kids is impactful and so awesome,” said Sherrie Balmer, director of communications and marketing for Marillac. “We wanted to let our supporters know about her generosity and see if we could build on her donation.”

Balmer hopes Laney’s generosity will show others that no matter how little the donation, the impact is always huge.

“Most people don’t realize that $2.90 can make a huge difference,” she said. “It can buy a pair of socks or lunch for a kid.”

After all, she pointed out, as a nonprofit organization Marillac relies heavily on donations.

The Lemonade Challenge fundraiser was a complete surprise for Laney and her family. They didn’t find out about it until hundreds of dollars had been raised.

“I felt really good when I heard they raised more money,” Laney said. “It made me happy.”

Her mom was floored.

“It really means a lot to us,” said Anna Vizcarra-Boeger. “Their appreciation is so kind.”

She said Laney chose Marillac after the two looked up several nonprofit organizations in the Kansas City area. They both were touched by how Marillac helps kids suffering from mental illness.

Balmer said she wished more people had their respect.

“There’s a stigma around mental illness, so we (Marillac officials) want people to know that these aren’t bad kids. They’re just kids who need a little extra help and support,” she said.

Laney said she is thrilled Marillac took her donation so seriously. It was an eye-opening experience to see that kindness doesn’t go unnoticed, she added.

And her $2.90 donation to Marillac definitely won’t be the last one she’ll ever make to charity. She plans on having a lemonade stand again, maybe soon, and she might donate her proceeds again. But she’s not sure whether she’ll choose Marillac or another cause, Laney said.

It’s a mindset that may surprise some parents, but one that definitely doesn’t shock her mom.

“Laney is a very compassionate girl, very selfless,” said Vizcarra-Boeger. “She’s always thinking about other people and thinking about ways she can help them. To her, that’s just what you do.”

To donate to Marillac, visit marillac.org

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