The following is a guest post by Lisa Cerone, mother of 14-year old LemonAID Warriors founder Lulu
Fitting philanthropy into our family life was on a long list of things I knew I was supposed to be doing as a parent – like teaching my children how to sew on a button and introducing kale to their diet. I knew it would be good for them, but there was no free time in our schedule and I had no idea where to start.
I found the answer at the foot of our driveway.
My daughter Lulu was nine at the time, and like many children, she loved selling lemonade in front of our house with her friends. One day I asked them to consider donating their earnings to a charity. I expected resistance, but to my surprise their eyes lit up. One of them grabbed a marker and wrote “Help Sick Kids” on the shoebox cash register. The lemonade stand took on an extra level of excitement and the afternoon’s fun factor doubled, with the children energized by their feelings of compassion. For the rest of the summer, none of the kids in our neighborhood even considered keeping their lemonade money.
Eventually summer ended, lemons were no longer in season, and the school year started. But those lemonade lessons took root deep inside Lulu. Whenever she felt a wave of compassion, such as when the earthquake in Haiti hit, Lulu felt compelled to mobilize into action, rather than retreat into the feelings of helplessness and fear that many people feel when exposed to tragedy. Her lemonade stand friends were completely on board. It seems they had formed deeper bonds over the summer. Feeling compassionate toward the less fortunate made them more compassionate toward each other. She didn’t want to stop just because summer was over, and neither did her friends.
Inspired, Lulu founded a club, which eventually grew into an organization, called LemonAID Warriors. She expanded the lemonade stand model to include ideas she calls Philanthro-parties, or “parties with a purpose.” The goal is to turn every social gathering into an opportunity to contribute to others – and still have fun. The parties are simple and use skills that kids already have, so with a minimal amount of support they can do it on their own and feel the pride that comes from being instruments of change in our society.
Selfishly, the best part for me has been that these Philanthro-parties don’t add work to our busy lives. They fit into what we’re already doing. Backyard barbecues, team celebrations, birthday parties, even sleepovers and trips to the mall can take on deeper meaning with a LemonAID twist. These are small ideas that make a big impact, not only for charities but for our children, who are learning to combine social activism with their social lives.
And it can become a way of life.
The most rewarding part of this journey as a parent has been watching Lulu hand the torch to other children, who take it and run.
When Monster High™ found out about Lulu’s efforts on her blog, they invited her to team-up and encourage other young girls to “pay it forward” and help out in their communities, through the “Ghouls Helping Ghouls™” campaign.
On www.GhoulsHelpingGhouls.com, Lulu is sharing her Philanthro-party ideas, party planning tool kits and engaging and informative action plans to inspire kids to host their own Philanthro-parties. Monster High™ is even holding a “Skullership” contest to be awarded to five kids who host Philanthro-parties, for the chance to win $1,000 for their favorite charity.
To find out how to enter, check the website and look for the socially-conscious ghoul named Boo-Lu, a fire-haired, drumstick-twirling ghost in a bowler hat. She has everything you need to introduce philanthropy to your children in a simple, engaging way that can easily fit into anyone’s schedule.