What started as a COVID-19-related get-together in 2020 has turned into an annual neighborhood outreach and charity fundraiser for Waterford Community Church in Waterford, Michigan.
Fearing people would lose ties with one another and the church during the pandemic, ministry leaders brainstormed solutions. Someone suggested hosting multiple lemonade stands on the same day, with the stands serving as a place outdoors where people could visit while safely socially distanced. Five families volunteered to put on the stands, and church members were encouraged to make the rounds to each location. What wasn’t foreseen was the outreach-centered results.
“When our church people started pulling up to these little lemonade stands, it generated a buzz,” says Lead Pastor Brent Wood, noting that families nearby wanted to know what was happening. “It gave people the opportunity to talk to their neighbors. At one of the stands I visited, a man next door came out and was shouting across the lawn, ‘This is awesome! This is the best thing I’ve seen all summer!’”
One family made up flyers promoting their stand and canvassed their neighborhood, inviting people to come. Some stands also sold baked goods and crafts. In total, more than $1,100 was collected and given to a local food pantry, a gesture that carried a goodwill factor people appreciated.
When the church repeated the event in 2021, they raised almost $1,800.
“It pulls neighbors in, plus building the stand and decorating becomes a family activity. It’s a good way to teach kids to give,” Wood says.
“We wanted to challenge our people to realize they can make a difference where they are. The money goes to a good cause, [you] meet your neighbors and have conversations about positive things, and it lets you share your church and possibly your faith.”