After Hurricane Harvey tore through her Texas community in 2017, 10-year-old Frannie Joseph wanted to help the hundreds of animals left behind. She opened a simple lemonade stand to raise money for rescue efforts and was shocked by the outpouring of support. A cup of lemonade became the catalyst for Frannie’s mission to help all kinds of animals in need, and she’s still turning lemons into lemonade two years later.
In Frannie and her mom Anita’s words, the story of Harvey’s Animal Helpers:
Frannie: I’ve loved animals my whole life, so I was really sad to see so many injured and abandoned animals in my community after Hurricane Harvey hit. A few days after the hurricane, I remember watching the news and seeing Humane Society workers rescuing pets from flooded areas. I wanted to help the rescuers who were saving so many animals.
Anita: When we finally returned after the mandatory evacuation, there was a lot of damage in our community of southwest Houston — some families couldn’t even return to their homes because of flooding, and many animals were left behind.
We began thinking of ways to help the community, but I didn’t want Frannie to do anything that would be dangerous. After she saw a segment on the news about rescuing animals, she decided to raise money for the Humane Society.
Frannie: To start, I set up a lemonade stand with some neighbors and made posters. We called ourselves ‘Harvey’s Animal Helpers.’ Our goal was to raise $1,500 and deliver a check to the Humane Society.
Anita: At that point, people hadn’t really started thinking about the animals that were affected by the hurricane, so her lemonade stand seemed to tap into this new need. Right away, Frannie got a lot of positive feedback from neighbors, family, and community members.
Frannie: The reaction from our neighbors was amazing! Our first customer donated $100, which inspired me to keep going. To raise even more money for the Humane Society, my mom helped me create a GoFundMe to go along with the lemonade stand.
Anita: At first we were just telling people in our neighborhood about the GoFundMe. Then we posted it online and it just went crazy — the outpouring from the community was incredible. In just five days, Frannie surpassed her goal and raised about $3,500 between GoFundMe and her lemonade stand.
The Humane Society heard about Frannie’s efforts and invited us to spend a weekend at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, a large animal sanctuary here in Texas that partners with them.
Frannie: The experience at Black Beauty Ranch changed my life because I was able to see the way they treat the animals there with so much love and respect. They throw parties for them and love them like family members. For St. Patrick’s Day, we painted boxes with edible paint and made this long banner that said, ‘Happy St. Patrick’s Day!’ and threw confetti all over the place. The tigers especially loved it because they like to chew and shred boxes.
Anita: After that experience, Frannie wanted to focus her fundraising efforts on helping the ranch. Whenever we’d hit a certain goal on our GoFundMe, we would look at the ranch’s online wishlist and send supplies to them.
Frannie: We sent the ranch covers for the horses for when they’re in the sun, horse treats, and toys for the donkeys to play with. I also raised money to help the ranch create a new habitat for the bears.
I wanted to do even more, so I asked my principal if I could organize a supply drive for the ranch. Some of my friends and neighbors who go to my school joined in to help. Other students brought in pillows, blankets, and peanut butter — anything the animals need — and we were able to donate over $2,500 worth of supplies to the ranch.
Anita: I think this whole experience has revealed how much compassion Frannie has for all animals. She’s a bit shy and doesn’t really like the attention, but she keeps pursuing activities that put her in the spotlight anyway because she knows it’s making a difference for animals.
Frannie: Right now I’m interested in educating other kids about the right way to treat animals. If others knew how to treat animals from a young age, there would definitely be less animal abuse — which means fewer animals would have to be rescued by places like Black Beauty Ranch. The ranch also asked if I could tell kids at school how they can help fundraise too, so my mom and I wrote a list of ways to help.
It makes me really happy to know that the money I’ve raised is going to a good cause. I’m excited to keep helping animals and maybe become a veterinarian or a zoologist when I’m older.