As firefighters, police officers and crews from CenterPoint Energy put a cap on a long day investigating tragedy at the scene of the Eighth Avenue house explosion, a symbol of the good in the world rolled up to them on four wheels.
Four children, with their red wagon in tow, went up the street at about 6:30 p.m. with ice and water for the men and women who had put in as many as 6 and a half hours in temperatures topping 90 degrees.
Along the way, something amazing happened. People started offering donations to the children.
In two hours that night, the children raised $68. That spurred an idea from 9-year-old Brooklyn Anderson and her friend Kaylee Sarico.
The next morning, the two, along with Brooklyn’s younger brother Cruz, and his friend Payton Mickler, set up a lemonade stand a block away from the scene of the explosion with the goal of helping the family of Eugene Meyer, who died in the Thursday, July 22 blast. Eugene Meyer’s son John Meyer and granddaughter Leah were seriously injured in the explosion.
Brooklyn, who seemed a natural at providing top-notch customer service to people who stopped by for a glass of lemonade, said she wanted to help the people affected by the explosion because they didn’t have a home anymore.
Kaylee was affected by the fact that people just a block away had lost everything in the blast and subsequent fire.
But it was Cruz who might have had the most touching story of all.While riding his bike near the of the blast, he came across a sandal.
He became concerned that it might belong to one of the victims and wanted to use some of Thursday’s donation proceeds to go to the dollar store and buy sandals for the victims.
Friday morning, Brooklyn and Kaylee sat at their street-side lemonade stand enthusiastically pitching ice-cold drinks and chips.
“Help our Neighbors,” the girls said as cars passed by.
“Thank you for helping our neighbors,” was the message customers would get after a purchase.
Brooklyn, Kaylee, Cruz, and Payton weren’t asking for a specific price for their lemonade. The sign on their stand simply read: Donations, followed by a heart, a star, and a smiley face.
It was effective marketing. One man stopped by and left the girls with a $20 bill. Another put down $5 for a lemonade and bag of chips. One little boy came by and didn’t want any lemonade at all. But he emptied his piggy bank into the lemonade stand cash box.
In their first hour Friday morning, the children had proceeds of about $50.