By Lynn Sygiel, editor, Charitable Advisors

IMG_4973When Lemonade Day started, Gianina D’Attoma was a toddler. Three years later, at age 5, she became a businesswoman.

The citywide initiative, started in 2010, encourages kids to set up a lemonade stand on a common Saturday in May, work hard and make a profit. Kids are asked to divvy up their profits — spend some, save some and share some.

“I would say, Lemonade Day is not just selling lemonade, you’re actually helping people in a fun way who need your help,” said 7-year-old Gianina.

Morgan Wide, 9, and a friend, Laila Johnson, are five-year participants. Morgan’s sister, Madison, 7, joined the team two years ago.

These young saleswomen are serious about their charity selections, and each year, vary the recipient. Their criteria are simple: the organization must help the community, and have a cause they believe in and can support.

Gianini prefers charities that help at-risk children.

“Kids should donate to charity because it’s giving love to other kids, even though they don’t know them. It is respecting them for what they have to go through,” said Gianini.

“It makes me feel like I did something good for the world,” said Morgan.

This year, Indianapolis’s Lemonade Day is May 16. To learn more and register, click here.



By the numbers

13,000: kids, grades K to 6, registered to participate

1,021,825: total number of glasses sold


$114: average gross revenue per stand

$1,484,481: total gross revenue


$52: average donation to charity per stand

$679,954: total charitable contributions

Last year Gianina, Morgan and Madison were three of the 13,000 kids in Greater Indianapolis who set up lemonade stands. Organizers estimate that over 1 million glasses of the tart drink were sold and nearly $680,000 was donated to area charities.

The Wide sisters typically make classic and strawberry lemonade. Last May, they set up on the Monon Trail. At events tied to Lemonade Day, they have met the mayor and the governor. Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard tried the team’s lemonade, and he said it was “really good.”

Gianina varies her location and has added cookies to the menu. She admits that she does have help with the preparations from her mom and dad. In fact, Dad’s job is squeezing the lemons. Ever the innovator, this year she’s thinking of serving pineapple lemonade. The first year, Gianina had other expenses – paying half of the materials for her booth and lemonade supplies. Her mom says it was her daughter’s idea to donate half the profits, but ended up donating all the profits, so they forgave the other half of the loan.

These young girls’ donations ranged from $80 to $272.

Morgan’s crew donated a portion of its profits last spring to an autism organization, and the year before to the Red Cross.

“We voted and then we did some research to find people in need,” Morgan said. The Red Cross was selected because the donation would go to Indiana families whose homes were destroyed by a flood and tornado.

The first year, Gianina’s charity was Make a Wish because of a personal connection. A friend her age had cancer, and she wanted to help the organization that helped her friend, Henry. Last year her donation went to School on Wheels. She learned about charities at an expo and workshops that Lemonade Day held to introduce kids and their families to area charities.

“Lemonade Day has this little event that you can go, and there are booths set up so that you can get an idea of what charity you want. They have charities there that need donations,” said Gianini.

These girls have made their donations in person or online.

“We went to see the Red Cross in person, and we gave them a big check. We toured the Red Cross, and they gave us bags with glue sticks and first aid stuff.

They said, ‘Thank you.’ They smiled and gave us a certificate. They seemed happy because they were smiling,” said Morgan. “It made me feel like a grown-up,” she said.

Gianini went to the charity’s offices and presented nearly $300 in cash.

“They were like, ‘What is this?’ And I was like, ‘This is the money that I got from Lemonade Day and I picked you as my charity.’ I felt like they respected me for my gift,” she said.

The girls enjoy doing their part to help others and don’t expect much in return. A simple “thank you” is often enough. Or in Madison’s case, “I’d just like a hug.”

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