LARAMIE, Wyo. — Sitting near the corner near downtown Laramie, the Gray house is perfectly situated for the Laramie Jubilee Days Parade.
For the last five years, siblings Emmitt, 12, and Julep, 8, have taken advantage of the foot traffic on their street on parade day by engaging in a classic childhood entrepreneurial project — a lemonade stand.
Also for the last five years, the siblings have donated half their proceeds to a local nonprofit organization. This year, they gave $109 to the Laramie Downtown Clinic, which provides health care to low-income, uninsured Albany County residents.
Parents Matt and Renee said the family came up with the idea during the first year of the lemonade stand when they heard the Laramie Mural Project ran out of money for future murals.
“We thought we should give part of the lemonade money to the Mural Project, and after that, we started rotating nonprofits,” Matt said.
In the following years, Emmitt and Julep decided to give money to the Laramie Animal Shelter, Laramie Soup Kitchen and Albany County SAFE Project. This year, the Downtown Clinic caught their attention because a former neighbor volunteers there, and the family has had a lot of conversations about health care recently.
“It is nice that they can choose,” Matt said. “We talk about different groups and what each one does.”
On parade day, Emmitt and Julep set up early to catch pre-parade traffic on their street. They advertised their stand by promoting their donation plans.
“Every year, there’s a sign that says half the proceeds go to (a nonprofit),” Emmitt said.
They took a break to vie for candy as the parade rolled by. Meanwhile, Matt and Renee stayed busy running back and forth to fill pitchers.
“It’s the only job you’ll ever have where you take a big break in the middle,” Matt joked.
Friends of the family made a point to stop by, which increased the feel-good vibe of the day.
“For us, Jubilee Days is a nice community event,” Renee said. “We really like it.”
Julep remembered several customers making extra-large donations to support their efforts.
“We had some friends come, and they each gave us $20, and they didn’t want change,” she said.
After the parade was over, the siblings braced for another rush as people headed downtown. By late morning, the rising temperature had people in the mood for a cool drink.
“After the parade, people like it,” Emmitt said.
Matt and Renee said they’ve enjoyed seeing their children learn to consider the needs of others while also learning about ways the community supports people in need.
“Our goal is to try to raise children that will turn into adults that are caring, considerate and empathetic towards others, and we’re always trying to look for things that will build that awareness,” Renee said.
Pete Gosar, executive director of the Downtown Clinic, said he was “taken aback and touched” by the donation.
“We really appreciate what they do for those of us in the nonprofit community,” he said. “It really reflects on the kind of character of those two kids, and I really look forward to watching them grow up.”
Emmitt said he enjoyed being able to donate money.
“It feels good because you know you’re helping out,” he said.
Information from: Laramie Boomerang, http://www.laramieboomerang.com