The 50-cent cups of lemonade, which on Friday were a lesson in social interaction for 15 girls with emotional disorders, could someday turn into a cure for childhood cancer.
The girls, all students at The Children’s Guild in Chillum, took orders for drinks and snacks at their lemonade stand Friday afternoon, watching a growing total — more than $260 by Friday evening — that will benefit the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, a national nonprofit that funds research on childhood cancer.
“It’s for charity, and we’re helping kids with cancer,” said Ciana Williams, an eighth-grade student from Bowie.
Ciana is one of about 15 girls at the school of about 100 students with emotional disabilities or autism, and the lemonade stand fundraiser allows the girls to hone their abilities to communicate and collaborate, said school counselor Angela Will.
“It teaches them about organization, helps them learn to cooperate with one another, gets them to communicate with others,” Will said. “They work on their social skills, their confidence.”
The Children’s Guild has, for the past several years, joined about 6,000 groups that open lemonade stands annually to raise money for donations to the foundation that honors Alexandra Scott, an 8-year-old girl from Connecticut who died from neuroblastoma.
The Children’s Guild group donated about $350 to Alex’s foundation last year, Will said, and the goal is $400 this year, which the girls hope to reach through online donations.
While Alex’s foundation doesn’t track the number of groups of people with special needs who organize lemonade stands, spokeswoman Gillian Kocher said there aren’t many.
“It is very inspiring to see these kids, who have their own needs, and here they are raising money for childhood cancer,” Kocher said.
Some girls helped bake cookies to sell at the stand, and others practiced making change for their customers, mostly other students and some community members.
“You can interact with people and hang out with people who understand you,” 13-year-old Ciana said. “You learn how to handle yourself when you’re older, with a job, or when you buy things at a store.”
Yasmeine Ford, a seventh-grade student from Washington, D.C., said she enjoys the school’s community service projects, which include both the lemonade stand and a visit to a nursing home.
“It makes me feel good to help people,” she said.