CHICAGO (CBS) — In 2002, a River Forest neighborhood wanted to remember the victims of September 11th and give back to the community on the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
“After the attacks, we gathered a bunch of moms and we talked about how to react, how to respond. So we decided that we wanted to mark that first anniversary by doing something in the community. And we wanted to involve the kids on the block, so we decided to have a lemonade stand and donate the proceeds to a local children’s charity,” said Lisa Birmingham, the event organizer.
And with that, LemonAid was established. Their mission is quite simple: Turning lemonADE into lemonAID by raising awareness, as well as funds, for charities that serve children.
That first year, the stand on Bonnie Brae raised $400.
“We thought that was great, but over the years, it just snowballed from there and, since then, we’ve raised over $220,000,” said Birmingham.
Now, every September 11th, the neighbors gather for LemonAid’s charity stand, ‘Kids Helping Kids.’ Over the years, the event has turned into a festival filled with food, drink and live entertainment.
“Every year we get together as a block and we talk about charities to support. We set up all sorts of activities, food, lemonade on the block. We close the street and it takes on a block party, festive atmosphere.”
Birmingham said she expects an even bigger turnout this year for the 16th anniversary.
“We usually estimate numbers by cups and last year we used upwards of 3,000 cups.”
‘Kids Helping Kids’ charity stand will be Monday from 3 to 7 p.m. in the 700 block of Bonnie Brae in River Forest.
Proceeds from this year’s event will benefit the Kidz Express, a not-for-profit organization providing holistic solutions to the urban challenges of South Austin, which is on the West Side of Chicago. The program serves some of the most at-risk children, youth and families in one of the nation’s most undeserved urban environments.
The goal is to raise more than last year’s $40,000.
In 2011, in recognition of the residents’ efforts, the Village Board of River Forest approved a resolution providing an honorary designation of the 700 block of Bonnie Brae as ‘LemonAid Place.’