ELKHART — Some 500 local kids have squeezed valuable life lessons from their participation in the area’s First Lemonade Day, and their business ventures around town today, May 5, have sweetened their understanding of how small businesses work.
The national program was started in 2007 and has expanded to include 120,000 entrepreneurial youth in America and Canada. Elkhart businessman Amish Shah worked with other local businesses to bring Lemonade Day to Elkhart.
“Lemonade Day is much more than a basic lemonade stand. It’s empowering our future leaders to go out and show the community that Elkhart is back. Envision 500 kids throughout Elkhart managing their own small business on one day. That is the spirit Elkhart was founded on,” said Shah.
“It was a phenomenal day. It’s amazing. I talked to one kid who’s giving his money to Riley children’s hospital, and he had a surgery done there on his back when he was a child. And to start digging into kids, and to actually see 8-year-old kids understand what cost of materials mean, and what profit means, and talk about how difficult it is to start a business, but how exhilarating it was when they got their first customer. It was neat. It was beyond my expectation. It was just awesome. It really takes a community to engage it and do all the heavy lifting,” said Shah.
Shah visited 26 lemonade stands today, May 5, and talked to an emotional teacher at the Concord Mall who told him, “You gave this award to this young lady, and she’s very, very special needs. She’s never won anything in her life. That award was the first time in her life she ever felt like she was like the other kids. She was bawling and she went over to the girl, and she had the award clutched to her hands, and she said that she slept with it in her bed last night, and said it was the most meaningful thing that she’s ever received in her whole life.”
Elijah Wiswell, 11, who was at Wellfield Botanic Garden with his mother, Shane Osowski, said the most challenging aspect of the venture was “squeezing all the lemons, and making the lemon bars with my grandma, and getting the supplies and stuff. Financial lessons were also learned by Wiswell.
“I’ve learned how to take a loan, and about the interest,” he said.
Harrison Harte, 9, worked a stand at his home as his grandfather, who was dressed as a giant lemon on Jackson Boulevard, helped attract customers for Harrison, whose business also was helped by a garage sale his parents were holding. By midday Harte said he thought his grandfather had brought “maybe like 29 customers, because some people say ‘I like your grandpa doing that lemon-thing. It’s funny.’ I think they really like it.” The young entrepreneur said he planned to donate 50 percent of his earnings to Riley Hospital for Children, and use the rest to purchase an Xbox 360.
Winners were named Friday after judging had taken place at Concord Mall Thursday. Awards included:
Best tasting: Matt Whelchel, first; Dorothy Artist and Marley Wentzel, second; and D.J. Kintigh, third;
Most creative: Blake Forte, first; Kobi Stutsman, second; Enrique Ciceras, third;
Most innovative: Logan Johnson and Colin Rost, first; Zana Mlotshwa, Mark Stevens, Andrew Stevens, Lance Lewis, Tiffany Lewis, Julie Thuku, Caden Whidden, second; Emily Turner, third.