Pretty much all normal kids in America do it at one time or another. The temptation of untold lemonade riches and glory leads children in neighborhoods across the country to juice lemons, set up stands and squeeze the public for summer-time cash.
But by all accounts, SusieMarie Brenenstahl is anything but normal.
What for other kids is normally an exercise in the brutal realities of the market economy has instead been a lesson for a Cosmopolis girl on how to succeed if your ultimate goal is helping others.
Today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. SusieMarie, 9, and three of her best friends will host a lemonade stand to raise money for the Cosmopolis Volunteer Fire Department. This is the sixth time SusieMarie has hosted the fundraiser at her house on 614 G St.
“Our fire department is volunteer and they don’t get paid for what they do,” SusieMarie said about why she runs the lemonade stand. “If your house is on fire, if you get sick or if you’re in a car accident or if your cat gets stuck in a tree — the fire dept is always there.”
David Dutton, president of the Cosmopolis Association of Firefighters and a member of the department, said SusieMarie is “a force to be reckoned with,” adding, “She is small in stature but has more heart then anyone I know.”
SusieMarie came up with the idea of running a charity lemonade stand when at 4 years old, she approached her grandmother Ann Perry, who she lives with, to ask about setting up a regular lemonade stand. Perry said she planted the idea about the possibility of running a stand for charity and the idea sprouted in SusieMarie, who ran with it.
“She saves her money all year, she buys all the supplies,” Perry said. “Its been pretty much her doing it each year. It’s a great lesson for any kid to learn — your community is there for you if you give to your community. You get out of life what you put into it.”
Along with her three helpers, Madison Bundy, 9, Delaney Olson, 9, and Kallie Distler, 10, SusieMarie also received help from McDonald’s, Jay’s Farm Stand, Maxi Mini Mart and Staples.
SusieMarie doesn’t actually sell the lemonade, she gives it away in hopes that her customers will be inspired to donate the price of the lemonade, and more, to the department. A firefighter’s boot placed strategically in the booth gets her point across.
SusieMarie said she really likes running the stand. The only drawback is when demand for her lemonade, especially her strawberry lemonade, gets too intense, “If there are four cars and I am the only one there, then that’s kinda hard.”
The first year SusieMarie raised $13. But she didn’t give up. The next two years she raised roughly $100 each year. The fourth year SusieMarie made about $500, which, Perry said, “was the big turn around.”
Last year SusieMarie was able to present the fire department with $1,100, Perry said.
SusieMarie has already gathered $500 in donations for this year’s event.
According to Dutton, the department’s annual budget is $45,000. With that and two trucks, one of them nearly 40 years old, the department answers roughly 150 calls a year, covering everything for medical calls, structure fires, automobile accidents and calls for mutual aid.
“She is doing the stand for the same reason I became a volunteer firefighter, she wants to give back to the community,” Dutton said.
As for how long SusieMarie will run the stand, she said she wants to be an an EMT, but will keep fundraising for the department “as long as I can.”