“It was just the best thing in my life to help others.”
Ever since she was a toddler, Mikayla Rydzeski dreamed of running her own lemonade stand. And last year, on the hottest day of summer, her dream finally came true. In just a few hours, she made over $1,000. But rather than keep the money for herself, she gave every single penny she earned to kids in her community who couldn’t afford school supplies. This year, Mikayla is back at it-and she’s aiming even higher.
“It all started when I was just a little girl,” says Mikayla, now 9 years old. “I had always wanted to do a lemonade stand, but we never got a chance. I wanted to help other people who didn’t have as much stuff as everyone else does.”
For years, Mikayla begged her parents to let her run a lemonade stand. They wanted to help, but every summer, the timing just didn’t work out with their schedules. But finally in 2017, with her mom Shari home on maternity leave, Mikayla’s lemonade dream became a reality.
“I agreed to help her with the stand, and she told me that she didn’t want any of the money-that she wanted to donate it to charity,” says Shari. “I was really blown away by that. So we started looking for a local charity to help.”
In their search, Mikayla and Shari stumbled upon a local nonprofit called 6Stones. They reached out and learned that they could donate directly to the organization’s annual back-to-school event, which distributes school supplies to local kids who couldn’t otherwise afford them. It was the perfect fit.
Then, Shari helped Mikayla get the word out. They both participated in local rock-painting groups, where they painted stones with fun designs to hide around town and spread joy. So Shari reached out to the groups and let them know that Mikayla would be running a lemonade stand for charity. From there, the news began to spread.
The day the lemonade stand was scheduled to take place ended up being the hottest day of the summer. But that didn’t stop Mikayla. She mixed up batches of plain and strawberry lemonade, decorated her stand, and posted up by the street to wait for customers.
In just five hours, Mikayla’s lemonade stand raised over $1,000-enough to provide 36 local kids with back-to-school supplies. She also became the youngest large donor in the nonprofit’s history.
“I was so happy because people were giving over the amount they had to pay for, and not a single person asked for cash back,” says Mikayla. “It was just the best thing in my life to help others. Once that happened, I knew I was going to get over my goal.”
Later that summer, Mikayla got to attend the back-to-school event and meet some of the kids she helped with her lemonade stand. Seeing her impact made her so happy that this year, she’s back at it-and her goal is even bigger.
This summer, Mikayla announced her goal to raise at least $7,000-enough to provide school supplies for 10 classrooms in her community.
And as the word spread about the second annual lemonade stand, Shari heard from extended family in other states who wanted to help but couldn’t attend in person. So she started a GoFundMe to allow everyone to support Mikayla’s mission, no matter where they live.
Whether or not Mikayla reaches her goal, it’s clear to her mom that the lemonade stand has already been a success. “Mikayla saw how she was able to help last year with the lemonade stand, and I think it has made her even more compassionate,” says Shari. “When she sees someone in need, she immediately jumps to help them.”
Mikayla’s reasoning? Choosing kindness is just common sense:
“My first grade teacher read us a book called How Full Is Your Bucket? It said that when people are nice to you, they put drops in your bucket. And when someone like a bully is mean to you, they take drops from your bucket. I just want to fill people’s buckets with drops of my kindness.”