2012-06-08 / Community

South Portland boys learn business, give to charity

By Jack Flagler Staff Writer


J.T. West, 7, donated most of the profits he made from selling lemonade to the Wounded Heroes Program of Maine. (Cindy Castaline photo) J.T. West, 7, donated most of the profits he made from selling lemonade to the Wounded Heroes Program of Maine. (Cindy Castaline photo) Aaron Matthews and J.T. West, both of South Portland, had different strategies for raising money heading into Lemonade Day Maine on June 3.

Matthews, 10, had sent invitations to people he knew in the community, asking them to visit his stand in front of Willard Scoops on Preble Street in South Portland to support the Make-A-Wish Foundation. West, 7, set up inside Broadway Variety and asked customers in the store if they would be willing to buy lemonade to support the Wounded Heroes Program of Maine.

For both young entrepreneurs, the strategy worked. Despite the overcast and rainy weather conditions, both donated more than $100 to the charity they were raising money for from their profits, and both were able to keep a small amount for themselves.

Their lemonade stands in South Portland were two of hundreds set up across the state as part of the Lemonade Day Maine program. The goal of the program is to teach young people interested in business the fundamental skills to become an entrepreneur.


Aaron Matthews, 10, mans his lemonade stand on a rainy Sunday afternoon in front of Willard Scoops in South Portland. (Jack Flagler photo) Aaron Matthews, 10, mans his lemonade stand on a rainy Sunday afternoon in front of Willard Scoops in South Portland. (Jack Flagler photo) “We get to learn lots about saving and budgeting and loaning, getting investors in. I just love it because I think it’s great for kids to be in business because it’s just so fun and challenging and I just think it’s great,” said Matthews, who is finishing fifth grade this year.

Kate Krukowski Gooding, director of Lemonade Day Maine, said the idea came from a similar program that began in Houston, Texas, in 2007. Gooding said she saw an opportunity for the program to succeed in Maine.

“There is no formal entrepreneurial education in Maine. Ninety-two percent of businesses here are small business, and there is no type of education to support this. So it was a way for me to be able to build Maine’s future economy from the youth up,” Gooding said.

Gooding said she was impressed by the spirit and resolve from the young participants despite the poor weather.

“I sent out an email to all the participants saying we’ll work out a rain date in the next two weeks and I got so many calls and emails saying ‘we’re still doing it,” Gooding said. “Part of what happened Sunday is kids said, ‘I made a commitment to give money to my charity.’ There was a lot of commitment from these kids.”

Matthews participated in the same event last year. On a sunny afternoon, he set up a tent at his home. He said this year, his profit actually improved despite the weather. Partly, he thinks, that is because of his preparation, and partly because of his location change. Willard Scoops owners Jen and Paul Leddy allowed Matthews to use the space in front of their store for free.

Matthews said he’s not sure what he wants to buy with the portion of the profits he got to keep, although he’s considering getting an Xbox so he can chat and play video games with friends. Mostly, Matthews said, “I just wanted to show that you can do anything with lots of determination and hard work.”

Jennifer West, J.T.’s mother, said her son had a few ideas about what organization he wanted to support, and settled on the Wounded Heroes Program because he had met Pam Payeur, who runs the organization, at a charity event.

However, Justin West, J.T.’s father, said his son went beyond the guidelines of the Lemonade Day program.

“The booklet suggested donating 50 percent of the profits to a charity organization and he went ahead and donated 75 percent,” Justin said. “I don’t think his mindset was toward getting money for himself. I think that was a bonus more than anything.”

Gooding said she does not have the final numbers on how much was raised statewide because some participants delayed opening their stands in hopes of better weather. Next year, Gooding said she hopes to expand the program in Maine to include more products besides lemonade. She said she hopes this will help encourage young people interested in business to develop their skills and promote what they believe in.

Staff Writer Jack Flagler can be reached at 282-4337 ext. 219.

Return to top