SOMERVILLE, NJ - Instead of pushing their way through the doors at the end of the school day this week, students at the Van Derveer School took their time and hung out in the lobby each day, patiently waiting on line to spend 25 cents for a 9-ounce cup of lemonade.
The students are supporting the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, a non-profit organization working to find a cure for childhood cancers.
Fourth grade teacher Lindsay Gottfried explained how the project got started.
“After finishing the novel, 'Lemonade War,' the 4th grade students decided to create their own lemonade stand at VDV. We were inspired by the novel as well as the Alex's Lemonade Stand story about how one little girl would change the meaning of a lemonade stand forever."
The novel is a fictitious story written by Jacqueline Davies about a young girl and her older brother, who get along fairly well until he finds out that his sister will skip third grade and join him in his fourth grade classroom.
But the story of Alex’s Lemonade Stand is very real.
When Alexandra Scott was just four-years-old, she held her first childhood cancer fundraiser in the front yard of her Connecticut home where she lived with her mom and dad and three siblings. She raised over $2,000. By the time of her death in 2004, Alex had raised $1 million and inspired a legacy of hope and cures for childhood cancer.
She was born in 1996. Shortly before her first birthday, Alex was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a type of childhood cancer.
On her first birthday, the doctors told Alex’s parents that if she beat her cancer it was doubtful that she would ever walk again. Just two weeks later, Alex slightly moved her leg at her parents’ request to kick. This was the first indication of who she would turn out to be — a determined, courageous, confident and inspiring child with big dreams and big accomplishments.
Over the past several weeks the fourth grade students in Gottfried’s class, as well as those in two other VDV fourth-grade classes taught by Sarah Martin and Jessica Meyers, prepared a marketing and advertising campaign. “We designed and sold t-shirts, made fliers to send home, created posters and spread the word about the purpose of the lemonade stand,” Gottfried said.
"On Monday morning we were shocked at how many students, parents, teachers and Somerville community members lined up to purchase the 4th graders lemonade," Gottfried said.
The students’ original goal was to raise $500 – they far exceeded that number early on, and by the end of Wednesday, had raised $1,200 through the sale of the lemonade, t-shirts and teachers having to pay a $5 “fine” for wearing jeans to work on Monday, according to Gottfried.
There are two lemonade stands in the school, manned by the students under the supervision of the teachers. The 4th graders take turns volunteering their time before school and after school to work both stands between 8:30-9:15 a.m. and 2:30-3:15 p.m.