The Free Willy Club and Lemonade Stand Innocence

When I was in the fourth grade,  I helped start a Free Willy club.   As best as I can recollect,  during recess a group of friends and I wrote down our plans to raise money to save this whale.   If you’re a kid of the 90s you remember the Free Willy movie, and know what I’m talking about.  Unfortunately, I don’t think the club lasted more than a week.  I wonder if somewhere along the lines may be an adult came along and squashed our little plan by making us realize that we probably weren’t going to free the whale after all and that our innocent idea was a little naive.
I thought about this recently when one of my former students, also fourth grader, made a lemonade stand to raise money fora Grain of Rice Project. She made $22 doing this at her family’s yard sale.  I was impressed that her lemonade stand went a lot further than my Free Willy Club, that it was her own idea, and that no one stole her dream of wanting to help.  Maybe $22 doesn’t seem like a lot. Maybe it feels like just a drop in the bucket to you.  But $22 can provide 43 meals for the kids in our Saturday feeding program and cover half of our food expenses for the month!
That’s 43 kids who wouldn’t have eaten lunch that day;
43 kids with with full bellies;
43 kids feeling loved.
$22 is actually that single grain of rice that is tipping the scale and making an impact.  And these lemonade stand dreamers are actually world changers making a difference.  Because it’s this lemonade stand style innocence that says, maybe I can do something small to help.  Maybe I’m just one person, but with God’s strength, my small, tangible giving and helping can combine with other people’s efforts to make a difference.


I want to leave you with this beautiful Franciscan blessing I heard at church Sunday and hope it will inspire you to also have lemonade stand innocence and go out and do something to change the world.

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.  May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.  May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their pain to joy.  And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.


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