A gleaming red Jeep with massive tires rolls into the parking space next to a lemonade stand. A crowd of people passes by, admiring the off-road vehicle—and dozens of others.
“Would you like some lemonade?” Maisie M. asks the onlookers.
“We have cookies too,” older brother Jackson adds.
The hot Rocky Mountain sun ensures the day will be a success. Several people step out of the crowd to buy a cool drink and baked treat. Maisie and Jackson’s friends help pass everything out and collect donations.
“What’s the money going to be used for?” a customer asks.
“We’re raising money to help veterans go to Washington, D.C., to see the memorials that were built for them,” Jackson explains.
“They fought for us, so it’s nice to give back,” Maisie adds. “God wants us to help others.”
Called to Care
For more than five years, Jackson and Maisie’s lemonade stands have raised $43,000 for High Plains Honor Flight. This organization takes veterans on an all-expenses paid trip to the nation’s capital to see the memorials that honor their service to the United States.
“Helping veterans seems to be Jackson and Maisie’s calling,” 95-year-old veteran Lucky McGinty says.
Lucky, their neighbor and friend, has attended three of Jackson and Maisie’s lemonade stand events. Lucky served in World War II and was part of the invasion of Normandy, France, in 1944. Last summer, Lucky and other veterans visited the beach where they fought the battle.
“Our first lemonade stand was in our front yard in Erie, Colorado,” Jackson says of their original fundraiser. “A lot of my dad’s friends heard about it. They rode their motorcycles to our house and bought lemonade. We gave $1,200 to veterans the first year.”
Since those early beginnings, the siblings have seen their ministry grow. All of that growth means they need lots of help. Their dad, who is a Navy veteran, and their mom handle details like finding places to set up the lemonade stand, promoting the event and asking other organizations to join them.
“We invite organizers of vintage car shows, motorcycle shows and Jeep shows to join us at the lemonade stand events,” Jackson says. “We had a mini submarine on display once. Another time someone brought a real military tank!”
They also find volunteers to help at the actual event.
“We ask our friends to help us sell lemonade, cookies and brownies,” Maisie says. “Our friends are excited to help out when we ask them. We are helping other kids learn that they can make a big difference in someone’s life when they give their time.”
Prayer and Planes
Both siblings agreed that the best part about doing a lemonade stand is knowing they help people who sacrificed so much for their country. In addition to the donations they make to veterans, Maisie and Jackson pray for them and cheer them on.
“Buses pick up the veterans and take them to the airport for the trips,” Maisie explains. “My mom and Jackson and I line up along the interstate to cheer and wave American flags.
“I also pray for the veterans when they are on the bus and plane,” Maisie adds. “I ask God to keep everyone safe.”
Maisie and Jackson don’t always feel like putting so much time into the lemonade stand, but they’ve found ways to make it easier.
“I really like to ride bikes with my friends,” Jackson says. “Sometimes I don’t want to do the events, but when my friends help us, it makes it easier and more fun.”
Maisie agrees that sometimes she would rather play. “But after I serve someone it makes my heart feel good,” she says. “Our lemonade stand makes other people’s lives better.”
And lemonade isn’t the only way Maisie and Jackson support veterans.
“Another thing we’ve learned is when a veteran dies, their family is sad and lonely,” Maisie says. “On special occasions like Memorial Day, we visit the graves of soldiers and put a penny on the headstone. This shows their family that someone visited their grave and was thinking about them. The family knows they are not alone.”
“At Christmastime, we put wreaths on soldier graves too,” Jackson adds.
The Bible talks a lot about honor and service. Putting others before yourself can be tiring. But Maisie and Jackson have also found that service is sweet, just like lemonade.
Pizza topping: pepperoni
Bible verse: James 1:17, “Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.”
Animal: his cat, Sven
Bible character: Joseph