It’s hard to absorb the catastrophic news these days from war in the Middle East to the deadliest earthquake to strike Afghanistan in decades.
And it is easy to become numb to the numbers, but when 5-year-old Edison “Eddy” Juel heard the news about the wildfires on Maui in August, he was ready to take action.
Edison told his parents, Ami Juel ’11 and Matt Juel ’06, that he wanted to have a lemonade stand to help the people of Maui.
Earlier this year, Matt and Ami, and their two boys had visited the town of Lahaina, the historic town devastated by the Maui fires. “[Edison] kept asking questions this last week, clearly trying to reconcile his belief in the world being good with something that is so awful,” Ami wrote in an Instagram post after the fires. “He’d ask if kids had really lost all their toys, or their bed, and then drop it; the issue clearly on his mind but hard to process.”
With the help of his parents, Edison got to work setting up his stand. Instead of limiting his sales to “Lemonade for Lahaina,” the 5-year-old wanted to expand his offerings. His business would sell ice cream and popsicles, some toys, sparkling water, and, of course, lemonade — pink and yellow.
Edison, who started kindergarten this month, even came up with the idea for people to pay him via Venmo. “We got a $500 Venmo donation and couldn’t believe it,” Ami said, but her son was more excited over the bag of coins a kid brought to purchase items from his stand.
The stand opened at 10 a.m., and cars were soon lining up to make purchases and donate to Maui. By 6 p.m., an estimated 2,000 friends, neighbors, and strangers had showed up to support Maui through Edison’s lemonade stand. One random biker bought a cup of lemonade for $100. Even after the sale, people continued to contact the family to make additional donations, especially as news stories about Edison’s lemonade stand swept across national and international news outlets.
With matching gifts from Matt and Ami’s employers, the family has been able to donate more than $20,000 to the Maui Community Fund.
“We were shocked at how generous everybody was,” Ami said. “Edison now believes that he can make a difference, that he has good ideas, and that it is important to care about our neighbors near and far.
“Thanks for blowing our minds today,” Amy posted to her Instagram account. “Thanks for reminding us that generosity begets generosity and letting us spend one of our best summer days watching our kiddo learn about helping and working hard.”