One of the things I wanted to do before I turn 39 was to host a cupcake and lemonade stand with the kids. Well yesterday was the day… and it was amazing. The family agreed that it was a smashing success and that we should make this an annual Meyerson tradition.
I began this process with 3 goals: to have the kids involved, make it a small community affair, and donate 100% of the proceeds.
So right away I knew that I wanted to donate the proceeds to Miss Elizabeth Blair. Elizabeth is a young little warrior from our Central Phoenix corridor who is bravely defeating stage IV Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Her older brother was in preschool with my Emily 4 years ago.
I sent out an evite and a facebook notice to friends, family, and neighbors letting them know about the cupcake stand. I had very few RSVPs until the 24 hours before the sale. My original plan was to bake 125 cupcakes. The morning of the sale I had 37 more Yes responses to the cupcake sale. So I was in full baking mode. I finished frosting the last cupcake at 1:34 pm and the sale started at 1:30! In total, I made 289 cupcakes.
They were all over my house!
I enlisted help. 2 friends donated cups, bottled water, ice, and lemonade. My sister, Julie, saw all of the Yes responses on the Evite, baked 3 dozen giant brownies and 4 dozen chocolate chip cookies and drove 2 hours from her house in Prescott to help. I could not have pulled this off without Julie or Jeff. Jeff made many grocery store runs for ice, lemonade, and powdered sugar (18 bags!).
We raised $1100 total so far and I’m open to more donations until tomorrow. I’m still amazed at the outpouring of a small community to help Miss Elizabeth. I sit here this morning deeply moved by the generosity of my friends, neighbors, and family.
I want to encourage you to do something like this within your community. When planning out your own special event, here are lessons I learned…
Do What You Know: Right now, I know cupcakes. My community knows me for bringing cupcakes to all of the school activities, work, and the kid’s sporting activities. So some people came to the stand to try some of the different flavors they had seen posted on my blog.
I encourage you to find that one thing that is unique to you. I have a friend who lives to run. I told her that she should organize a charity 5K. Are you known for your quilting abilities? Baking? Sports? Organizational skills? Crafting? Life or trade skills (lifeguarding, first aid, CPR, cleaning, car mechanics, workshop, bicycle safety)?
I think some of the reasons this fundraiser was such a success was that it was unique, affordable, and fun.
Be prepared and plan for more: RSVPs are not very reliable anymore. That makes it difficult to plan for events. But thank goodness I was tapped into facebook and had spoken to friends who knew that many were planning on coming but hadn’t responded. Next year, I will bake much earlier and freeze the cupcakes so that I only have frosting left to do the 24 hours before an event. This was my kitchen at 3:30 yesterday. And I was covered in powdered sugar and had no shower. Showering is overrated isn’t it?
I will also let everyone know 1 month in advance of next year’s sale. I will make fliers for the kid’s schools and pass them to neighbors.
Assign duties: Next year I will make assignments for the duties. I will have one person for the money, one for the lemonade, two for helping with cupcakes (and refilling the tables as needed). For a small yard sale, it was fine. But this was an area we could have improved on.
Make signs for different types of cupcakes: I felt like a broken record telling people what all the different types of cupcakes were. Simple signs stating what they were would have been helpful and just plain cute. Live and learn.
Timing of the sale: The cupcake sale was from 1:30 – 3:30 on a Wednesday. It was great for our neighborhood because the kids get out of school early on Wednesdays. Next year however, I will have it on a Saturday afternoon so I get more people who aren’t at work and capture the husbands. Husbands always love the cupcakes and more cupcakes means more donations!
If you are doing this sale, make sure you don’t do the sale the day your trash/recycling people come (I didn’t do this but made the mistake of having a garage sale on trash day and it made my friendly trash man upset with me!).
To Go Containers: I thought ahead and had Jeff run and buy some to go containers from ABC Cake Decorating. Next year, I will buy many more. I had extra plates but more to go containers would have been helpful.
Enlist help: Many people want to help but don’t know how. Next year, I will ask for volunteers and then assign them tasks. Assign them to make baked goods (be specific!), donate items, and tasks the day of the sale.
Take orders for people who can’t make it: Next year, if someone isn’t able to make it, I will take their order so they can pick it up later in the evening or the following day. Ben’s teacher pre-ordered red velvet cupcakes knowing she wouldn’t be able to attend. After I made the red velvet cupcakes, I packaged up her cupcakes and this morning Ben took them with him to school. Perfect!
Soak it all in: Jeff and I talked to the kids yesterday about how much money we raised and how this can help Elizabeth and her family. We discussed the enormous stresses of cancer including the financial strains that illnesses have on a family. The kids were shocked to find out that we still have debt related to my cancer from over 7 years ago. Then we shared the facebook message we received from Elizabeth’s mom last night. Rebecca told me this morning, “Mom, that was a good thing we did yesterday”. Indeed.
Those two comments from both Heidi (Elizabeth’s mom) and my Rebecca made the entire event worth it.
Plan nothing for the day after!: I’m exhausted. I feel like I have been run over by a truck, but I have a trip to get ready for. So I’m heading to the mall to buy some clothes. I really would like nothing more than to curl up on the couch and watch a movie. Next year, I will clear my calendar of everything.
Well I checked another item off my life list and my 39 things to do before I’m 39 list. But more importantly than checking an item off my list… I am a better person today because of what I witnessed yesterday. I saw a community coming together to help a family in need.
So this morning, I am dreaming and dreaming big. I am dreaming of a world where no person, especially a parent has to hear the words, “Your daughter has cancer.” Here’s to Heidi, Elizabeth’s mom, watching her daughter grow up and get married and have her own children. That is my prayer this morning. It’s gonna happen.
To learn more about sweet Elizabeth and her family, you can keep up with their journey here.
Blessings sweet friends- JennyTweet