A local business owner is helping the community beat the heat this summer while raising money for numerous charities through the Lemonade Stand for a Cause.
Suraphong “A” Liengboonlertchai’s Stand for a Cause charity program will take place outside of Simplicity ABC from 5-7 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays and 1-4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Each day will feature a different group of kids who will donate their earnings to the charity of their choosing.
“The kids can be trained or the kids can learn how to work together as a team and also work together to benefit somebody else, not just themselves,” Liengboonlertchai said. “We call it the Lemonade Stand for a Cause, so we ask that they raise funds for some nonprofit or cause or belief that they believe in.”
Liengboonlertchai owns Simplicity Decor and Simplicity ABC in downtown Kirkland on Park Lane. Simplicity ABC will host the lemonade stand every week until Aug. 27.
Additionally, Liengboonlertchai will donate 10 percent of the store’s sales to the chosen charity during each shift at the lemonade stand.
Simplicity ABC raised and donated more than $7,000 between 2012 and 2015 on top of the lemonade stand earnings donated by the 55 groups who participated in previous events.
Stand for a Cause was canceled last year because of a staffing shortage. Liengboonlertchai said he learned from previous years and instead of running two lemonade stands outside both of his stores, he is only running one.
Liengboonlertchai opened Simplicity ABC in April 2012 and that summer, while the weather was nice, he stopped and bought lemonade. He said the idea simply clicked in his head after a few years of local families asking him if their kids could set up lemonade stands outside of Simplicity Decor.
“I thought about the summer months and the prime location that I have for both stores that would be able to help the kids of the community to raise funds for their favorite charity,” Liengboonlertchai said.
Lemonade stands are already a common activity for kids to do during the summer according to Liengboonlertchai, so adding the charity part makes it more fun and a teaching tool for the kids.
“I believe as I’m owning a business, it’s not about making sales,” Liengboonlertchai said. “It’s all about working with the community, getting to know them, giving back to them and this is another opportunity for me to do so.”
The Ku family, who live in Kirkland, ran the first Lemonade Stand for a Cause and participated in the 2013 program. They raised $80.25 in 2012 and $68.50 in 2013 for World Vision, a charity that focuses on poor communities around the globe and specifically children in poverty.
Audrey Ku, now 10 years old and Elliott Ku, now 8 years old still sponsor the children they donated to five years ago.
“I sponsor a girl named Yensi (from Honduras) and my mom picked that kid because she had the same birthday as me,” Audrey said.
Elliott sponsors a boy named Edwin from Nicaragua who also shares his birthday.
Audrey and Elliott haven’t run the Lemonade Stand for a Cause since 2013, but continue to operate their own lemonade stand. Audrey has her own wagon, which she operates around a trail near her house.
Audrey and Elliott said they think the Stand for a Cause was really fun and a valuable experience that they’d like to do again.
“It was like our first business,” Audrey said. “You learn how to do public speaking to attract people and you learn about money-making and business. It was totally worth it to be in the hot sun.”
Peggy Ku, Audrey and Elliott’s mom, called the experience a “win-win-win” because the kids got the experience of selling lemonade, which attracted more people to the store and gives more money to the charity.
“It was a really fun experience and you get to drink lemonade,” Elliott said. “I want to do it again.”