The last thing four Butler County girls wanted to do during their summer break was help at a yard sale.
“They were bored,” Paula Paynter said about her three granddaughters and one niece.
So they turned lemons into lemonade.
The girls opened a lemonade stand, and while that’s not an original idea, what they did with the proceeds is nothing short of spectacular.
During the first two years, the girls held numerous sales, raised more than $4,500 and used all the profits to purchase bikes, protective helmets and toys for less fortunate Butler County children. They generated $500.01 — OK, who gave them a penny? — in 2021 and $4,036 last year.
“From being bored to turning it into a big thing,” Paynter said. “We had no idea it would get this big.”
The goal this year is $5,000.
The girls call themselves the “Lemonade Crew” but I prefer the “Fab Four.” They will think it’s original since they have never heard of The Beatles.
The Crew consists of Emma Merrill, 14, a freshman at Edgewood High School; Terre Merrill, 12, a sixth-grader at Edgewood Middle School; Aria Merrill, 10, a fourth-grader at Edgewood; and Myaha Paynter, 10, a fourth-grader at Amanda Elementary in Middletown.
They will be joined this summer by Gracelynn Davidson, 10, a fourth-grader at Edgewood.
Due to inflation, the cost of a glass of lemonade is increasing from $1 to $1.50 this year. It probably won’t matter since most customers — after learning how the money benefits the less fortunate — tip more than the price of the lemonade.
With proceeds from 2021, the girls purchased seven bikes and donated them to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office for its Christmas Drive. Then last year, with more than $4,000 in their budget, the girls bought and donated 27 bikes, several toys and helmets. They had money left over from their Walmart shopping spree, so they provided five scholarships to the Respect for Law Camp.
Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones thanked the girls for their hard work and said without their support some kids wouldn’t receive a new bike for Christmas.
One of their biggest supporters is James Davenport, a BCSO deputy and K9 officer who always brings his K9, Radi, to the lemonade sales.
“I’m so proud of them,” said Paynter, coordinator of the group. “They amaze me every day. They put every ounce of love into this little project. They have such big hearts.”
Besides philanthropy, the girls are learning the value of marketing and customer service and how to handle money.
“They are growing up,” Paynter said.
Emma Merrill said it “feels really good” to help out members of her community. When one customer learned how the girls were using the money, she told them: “You’re restoring my faith in humanity.”
Emma was asked if she’s ever tempted to spend the money on themselves. What 14-year-old couldn’t use a new outfit?
“It’s not for us,” she quickly answered. “We have our own things that probably are better than other kids. This is to help them.”
HOW TO GO
WHAT: Lemonade Crew Lemonade Stand
WHEN: 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 3. This is the first of several sales with locations, dates and times to be released later.
WHERE: Loyal Order of the Moose No. 501 parking lot, 3009 S. Main St., Middletown
HOW MUCH: $1.50 per glass
PROCEEDS: Purchase bikes, helmets and toys to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office Christmas Drive