The lemonade stand is quintessential summer Americana for a bored kid looking to make a handful of quarters. But last year a little girl from Marin County, California set up a lemonade stand to raise money for a much more meaningful cause – ending child slavery.
Nine-year-old Vivienne Harr’s parents had showed her a photo of two young boys carrying giant slabs of rock on their backs and it really affected her.
“I said, ‘We have to make a difference […] We can’t have these kids keep working because it’s too sad.’ I thought of me and my brother being slaves. So that’s how we started Make A Stand,” says Vivienne.
Make A Stand is the name of her lemon-aid (get it?) business. It started off small, set up outside her family’s home until…
“Nicholas Kristof from The New York Times, he had retweeted us. That’s a big deal so all the media just blew up. People were donating online and at the lemonade stand. One person gave us $140 for a glass and one person online gave us $1,000 and now, I think, they’re moving up to $4,000.”
For the past 365 days, rain or shine, Vivienne set up her lemonade stand, in her neighborhood and beyond.
“We went to New York, to Times Square, we put it there,” says her dad, Eric Harr. “We went to Orlando. Disney World invited us there and we ‘made a stand’ there. So it started moving around the country as we gained more momentum.”
Eric says they’ve raised more than $1 million for organizations who have, in turn, rescued thousands of kids from slavery. I asked Vivienne how it all works.
“I give people lemonade, people give what’s in their heart because it’s a, ‘pay what’s in your heart.’ There’s no set price. I give the organizations the money and they give kids freedom. How the organization works is, they take the money and they march over to the slave owners and they basically buy back the slaves, which is not that good because I don’t like to say ‘buy’ for people. Then they either put them in an orphanage to get adopted or give them back to their parents.”
Dressed in a big, poofy, colorful tutu, a faux fur vest and a flower headpiece, Vivienne is unlike any 9 year old I’ve ever met. Her determination to end child slavery is genuine and untiring.
“There was one point when I reached my goal and my mom and dad said, ‘You’re done! You don’t have to Make A Stand anymore.’ I said, ‘Is child slavery done?’ And they said, ‘No, it’s not done.’ So I said, ‘I’m not done.'”
So the family decided to bottle the lemonade and sell it in stores. They started a social purpose company, which gives 50 percent of the profits to five organizations that end child slavery.
I was also struck by Vivienne’s mom and dad. Not all parents would take a child’s idea and turn it into a philanthropic company.
“I think the natural inclination for parents is to be expedient with ideas their kids have. ‘Oh honey, that’s a cute idea. We’ll do it for a day and then I have to get back to my life.’ But if I hadn’t trusted her and followed the magic in her, I wouldn’t be on the most thrilling, rewarding journey of my life. I quit my job. I started a social media agency, very successful. Made a lot of money. Wallet was full, heart was empty. And now my wallet is a little bit less full but my heart is overflowing.”
And Vivienne’s journey continues. A major film company is making a documentary about her, and she will travel to Nepal to meet the two young boys who she saw in the photo that started it all.
“We can be witnessing the end of child slavery led by a child,” Eric says. “The founder of Not For Sale said this little girl has done more in four months for the dialogue of human slavery than we have done in 15 years because she’s not afraid to talk about it.”
Now I will leave you with a quote that Miss Vivienne made up all on her own.
“I have this really awesome quote that you might like. It’s, ‘Compassion is not compassion without action, it’s just feeling sorry for someone.'”
Vivienne visited the new Vashon Island Thriftway over the weekend, promoting her socially conscious Make A Stand lemon-aid. You can buy her lemon-aid online at Make A Stand.com.