It is difficult enough for adults to process the Trump administration’s recent actions of separating families at the U.S.-Mexico border, let alone put them into words that make sense to children. But last weekend a powerful movement emerged in support of reuniting the families separated at the border, centered around a summertime staple that even children can understand: the lemonade stand.
#StandForKids, started by Elana Berkowitz, Josh Hendler, and Avani Agarwal has become a national call to action for families all across the country to show solidarity in the belief that families belong together. Here’s what Berkowitz had to say about starting the movement, almost on a whim.
“The idea originated with my next-door neighbor’s young daughter and her plan for her own lemonade stand. It was such a perfect idea. I worked in the Obama Administration, I’ve volunteered on political campaigns since I was little, but now, as a new parent, it can be hard to find ways to take action in critical political moments like this in a way where the whole family can participate. Also, frankly, I was sick of people bemoaning the situation on social media while standing on the edge of the pool, and not jumping in to act in a meaningful way. Those of us with enormous privilege have a moral imperative to use it in service every day. ”
The movement gained traction when Atlanta-based mom of two Shannon Cofrin Gaggero explained the situation to her 6- and 3-year-old sons, and her older son suggested hosting a lemonade stand to help. Little did she know that their small stand would turn into a virtual fundraiser, which would eventually raise over $13,000 for the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES).
“As a family, we are trying to raise racially and socially conscious children, and as parents, confront our own internalized racism,” Gaggero says of their decision to take part. “It’s incredible to be instantly connected to a community of people fighting for justice alongside their families.”
To document these small-but-mighty efforts around the country, Josh Hendler, another parent running StandForKids.net, made this map showing where the event organizers believe lemonade stands were held last weekend.
Here are some more inspiring families teaming up to make a difference.
Jillian from the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas got her children — Maxwell, age 4, and Marley, age 2 — on board by simply telling them that they were raising money to help other little boys and girls. “As a mama, it absolutely breaks my heart to see these families being torn apart. I can’t imagine the pain those mothers are experiencing not knowing where their children are or if they are OK. This is not a time to be quiet, it is a time to speak up. I hope to raise kind helpers who speak up for others and that starts at an early age. I was speechless by the number of strangers that donated to the cause, and we hope to do it again soon.”
Lulu, her family, and their neighbors were inspired to take part because of their empathy for mothers. “My neighbor and I couldn’t imagine being separated from our children, and we felt that if we ever found ourselves in that position, we would hope that people would fight for us to be reunited as well.”
Brooklyn-based lifestyle blogger and mom of two, Joanna Goddard, hosted a bake sale which raised $715 for the ACLU and RAICES Texas.
Lisa Rubin is a lawyer who recently left private practice. “I knew that while I may not be able to interview detainees in South Texas right now, I could make Rice Krispie treats, my kids could run a lemonade stand and, together, we could take a stand for families torn apart at the border.”
As far as explaining the situation to her daughters, ages 4 and 8, Lisa says this: “Kids see everything, including how we respond in moments of crisis. I know that they feel proud that they stepped up to be helpers, as Mr. Rogers used to say, when other moms and kids need us.”
Paola Parsons of Culver City, CA, hosted a lemonade stand with her 6-month-old and 4-year-old daughters. She says, “I’ve been sick over the thought of young children and babies being separated from their parents. As a mother, this is my worst nightmare. To explain it to them, we used the Mr. Rogers quote about finding the helpers: ‘When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, look to the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”
When Delia Festa saw #StandForKids trending on social media last weekend, she knew her family had to participate. “I thought it would be a great way to involve my kids and teach them to help others. I think it’s so important to teach children to have compassion for others and to help them understand how different everyone’s realities can be.”
“My daughters know what Donald Trump is up to and that he’s taking children away from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border,” Molly Rosen of Stone Fox Bride explained. “They also know that it’s our job to help get them back into their parents’ arms. I told them that if we sold lemonade, we could help. My friend Elana Berkowitz set up the website StandForKids.net and was able to raise over $20,000 for a coalition of 14 different organizations. Our lemonade stand made $296 in an hour. Some really generous person donated the lemonade, and my kids gave out free lemon tattoos donated by Tattly. That won’t be our last lemonade stand.”