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Fostering Generosity in the Heart of a Child

By: Beth Gillem
| May 4, 2021 |

Last week my 6-year-old neighbor held a lemonade stand; little did I know that before the day was out she would exceed $1,000 in sales in about 2 hours. Let me tell you this incredible story of generosity and some insights into fostering generosity in the heart of a child. 

The Little Lemonade Stand that Could

Liz Anne Wade is our neighbor. She is a beautiful girl who loves to laugh and play with my daughter. A few weeks ago she was sitting in church, drawing in her notepad, while the missionary was sharing. A disaster had occurred on the tiny Caribbean island of St. Vincent. A volcano erupted destroying many homes and covering the entire island in ash. The church that Liz Anne’s church has helped over the years was covered with thick heavy ash.

While ash alone is usually relatively simple to remove, heavy rain fell that quickly solidified the ash making it very heavy and more like concrete. The building caved under the weight and was destroyed. Thankfully no one was there at the time due to the pandemic, but their house of worship was destroyed. You can read all about it here. The island of St. Vincent is a little over 100 square miles so a disaster like this was devastating! 

Liz Anne colored the whole time the missionary was speaking and looked up a few times at the photos. Like all parents, we want our young children to be calm and quiet during church so we may bring them busy work. Her mother, Elizabeth, was floored later on when Liz Anne said “Momma, we should do something to help them. Can we have a lemonade stand to raise money to send them?” Her mom happily agreed and they began planning. 

The lemonade stand was scheduled for Sunday afternoon. They made a cute poster board sign and her mom shared on social media with her friends and in our neighborhood group on Friday. “Momma, we have 100 cups. I hope we can sell all the cups and make $100 to send to them.” Liz Anne told her mom. When our children have goals we want nothing more than for them to achieve them. $100 from a child’s lemonade stand was a daunting goal.

Sunday morning came and her pastor announced the lemonade stand to the congregation. Hearing this Elizabeth felt a slight panic that they may run out of lemonade so her husband Dustin made a quick run for more right after church. 

1 pm- Time to begin. Everything is set up. The first customers come and I am not exaggerating when I tell you that the line never stopped for the next two hours. Church members, neighbors, even some just driving by stopped to buy a humble cup of lemonade. I emptied my ice bin from my fridge to help out and Dustin even made another run for ice and cups. My daughter served (and played) alongside Liz Anne to help with the rush. Liz Anne’s little metal lunchbox was filling up with cash by generous lemonade lovers!

The Generosity Counted

By 3 pm, the official end date, the crowd finally began to die down. As clean-up began, I talked with Liz Anne and my daughter about how amazing it was to see all those people come to her lemonade stand. “Can you believe all those people Liz Anne?” I asked her “That was a lot of people! And some gave me a lot of money!” She said smiling proudly!

Elizabeth counted the money. From their two-hour lemonade stand, they received over $800 in donations and another $200 in digital donations from those that could not come by! We were all amazed and overwhelmed at the generosity of the community! 

Lessons Learned

When thinking about the magnitude and message of the “lemonade stand that could” I was struck by a few lessons that help foster generosity in the hearts of children and a few practical lessons I took home myself. 

  1. In a “ME ME ME!” and “NOW NOW NOW” society, fostering generosity in the hearts of children (and in ourselves) must be intentional. How do you teach children to be generous? You don’t. You must show them. Lead by example. It may take a little time for it to click, but they will connect the dots that you are giving something that you could use yourself to someone else who needs it. 
  2. There is huge power in a supportive community. Whether it be your church family, your own family, or a strong network of friends, surrounding yourself with others who are generous in spirit will undoubtedly influence your children. It is almost impossible to be the right kind of person around the wrong kind of people. Make sure you and your kids are around the right kind of people. 
  3. Teach them the difference between cost and value. While a single cup of lemonade may cost 12 cents to produce, the value of a cold glass of lemonade on a hot day is much more than that and a cup of lemonade that helps to rebuild a church is worth a lot more. True generosity recognizes that cost is different than value in life. 
  4. God takes what little you have and turns it into a lot! Liz Anne was hoping for $100 and she ended with 10x that amount! One plus God is always a majority. God took her small act of selling lemonade and exploded it into a huge act of generosity!
  5. God specializes in using ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Anything you do in the spirit of serving and giving to others is magnified when God is given the glory! Those small acts of kindness that your children see you do are taking huge leaps to foster generosity in their own hearts. 
  6. Your kids are listening in church! Over the years I have packed countless crayons, coloring books, stickers, and even play-doh to keep my small children entertained during church services. I will admit at times I thought “What is the point of them being here?” They are in fact listening and the Holy Spirit is impressing small bits and pieces into their hearts. Bring your kids to church!
  7. You can make a difference! No matter the size of the act, make sure your children know that you can make a difference. The world (and the devil) want to bombard us with ideas like “You are not good enough…you haven’t got what it takes…you will never succeed.” God says “You are good. I made you in my image. You can do anything with my help. I have plans for you that are good and prosperous!” We may hear the naysayers of the world, but we must listen to God. Never forget who you are and whose you are. Remind your children of that too. Romans 8:31 says “If God is on our side, who can be against us?” You can make a difference. 

What are some ways you have seen generosity shown in your life? In what ways have you shown generosity to others? We would love to hear about it! 

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One Response

  1. Thanks for this, Beth. I also wondered about the same question myself and you are absolutely right. Praise the Lord!!!

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