Serenity Boike walked along the worn path between her Big Lake home and the nearby home of her friends Averie and Evan with regularity.
It’s how the 8-year-old Serenity would get together and play with 9-year-old Averie and 7-year-old Evan.
But in the early morning hours of April 12, the path between the two homes suddenly led to heartbreak and tragedy.
Investigators believe Anthony R. Parker set fire to the house that took his life and the lives of 1-year-old Spencer Parker and 3-year-old Landon Parker.
Serenity’s friends Averie and Evan survived the fire. The children’s mother was not home at the time of the fire.
The tragedy left Serenity desperately wanting to do something to help her friends.
But what could an 8-year-old do?
Serenity turned to lemonade, home-baked cookies, and bracelets created by her own two hands.
Serenity has raised over $3,500 for the Parker family through the lemonade, cookie and craft stand at the end of her driveway in the 600 block of Eagle Lake Road South in Big Lake.
But the 8-year-old’s fundraising efforts aren’t over yet.
This Saturday, August 10, Serenity will host a benefit for the Parker family from 2-6 p.m. at KJ’s Refuge in Big Lake. KJ’s Refuge is located at 26211 184th St. in the heart of Orrock Township.
Serenity’s mother Cassie Boike and accomplished benefit host Sarah Yule have been working tirelessly to help set up Saturday’s benefit.
An unassuming Serenity says she hopes to raise $1,080 on Saturday.
With both silent and live auctions on the schedule, as well as sales of her renowned lemonade, cookies, and handmade bracelets, proceeds are expected to catapult Serenity’s fundraising efforts well over the $5,000 mark. There will be food sales and a beer bust at the August 10 benefit, as well.
Serenity’s original fundraising goal was set at what appeared to be a lofty $500 on that first weekend after the April 12 fire.
But after the first night of sales of refreshing lemonade, fluffy chocolate chip cookies and Serenity’s bracelets, there was over $100 in the cash box.
People from the neighborhood flocked to Serenity’s driveway stand. But it wasn’t until Big Lake police officers stopped by and posted details about their visit on the police department Facebook page that sales really took off.
A Twin Cities television station saw the Facebook posting and told Serenity’s story on the news. People flocked to Eagle Lake Road.
At some point Saturday, Serenity raised her sales goal from $500 to $1,000. By the end of Saturday, Serenity was about $430 shy of meeting her $1,000 goal. A man from Clearwater who heard Serenity’s story drove to Big Lake and gave her $440 to topple her goal.
“After seven hours over those three days, Serenity raised over $1,800,” her mother Cassie said.
The results were a true phenomenon.
“When she started out, Serenity was afraid nobody would come,” Cassie Boike said.
“But they came in numbers and spent money,” Boike said.
Donations came in through the mail. Even more came in through a donation site set up on Facebook.
As of last week, donation totals sat at around $3,500.
A $1,500 donation from the Elk River Lions Club is pushing donations over the $5,000 mark.
That’s why Serinity is excited for the Saturday, Aug. 10 benefit.
The sky’s the limit for the good she can do for the Parker family.
“There should be more people in the world like Serenity,” Sarah Yule said.
For an 8-year-old girl who dances, likes to play hockey, and enjoys playing with other kids, Serenity Boike has shown that the good things in life can come in small packages.
Reach Jeff Hage at email@example.com