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Lemonade stand love: Kids raise $115 for ill child they've never met

Sometimes you can learn a lot over a cup of lemonade.

Three children in West Seneca started a lemonade stand to make money to buy themselves a trampoline, and now they’re raising money for a little girl in Virginia who they never met.

“I want them to be considerate, I want them to have empathy toward kids who can’t do the things they can,” Heather Schunk said about her children.

And her children, Disney, 6, Jace, 3, and nephew, Johnathan Dearing, 6, are on the way.

But the summer started out with the kids starting a lot of sentences with “I want...”

“I said, ‘Well, you need to get a job,’” Schunk recalled telling them in jest.

So they started talking. She looked up how to build a lemonade stand on Pinterest, and found one made out of pallets. But then her father, Bill Zawieruszynski– Poppy to his grandchildren – built one out of wood. His wife, Charlene – Nana – painted it and made a yellow canvas awning for its top.

They set up the stand outside the Zawieruszynski’s Warren Avenue home, and it didn’t take long before the children made enough money for the trampoline.

[RELATED: Photo gallery of the lemonade stand]

A week later, Schunk saw on Facebook that her friend’s child, Sawyer Perkins, 6, had been diagnosed with brain cancer. And that’s when she decided her children had learned enough about working for themselves. It was time to work for someone else.

“You’re going to donate money to this girl to make her smile,” she said as she told them about Sawyer, a little girl their age who lives in Mechanicsville, Va. Her mother, Jamie, and Schunk grew up together in West Seneca.

Jace has had some medical issues, and Schunk knows what it’s like to have a child in the hospital.

“Every time you’re in the hospital you get so depressed,” she said. “I just wanted to do something to help.”

So they started decorating the stand with photographs of Sawyer, who is in St. Jude Hospital. They call her Super Sawyer, like Superman, and they wear red capes for her. They made signs to hold up in front of the stand.

They decided to try and raise $100, because “100 for them is like a million,” Shunk said.

Mom and Nana got the ice and made the lemonade. And people came out on Thursday. Lots of people gave them a dollar, or five, and said “Keep the change.”

They had plenty of customers on bicycles, and they had a lot of quarters to count.

Several West Seneca police officers showed up, and Vigilant Volunteer firefighters drove their fire truck over to buy some. The little stand, selling cups of lemonade for 25 cents apiece, made $115 Thursday, its first day.

That’s a fraction of the thousands of dollars that have been raised on a GoFundMe page that was set up for the family, but it comes from the heart. The children also used some of the lemonade proceeds to buy a toy for Sawyer.

The Warren Avenue stand will be open again at noon Sunday on Warren, between Center Road and Norwood Drive.

While there have been difficulties in her life, Schunk knows her family is blessed.

“They have so much it’s not even funny,” she said. “They need to learn it’s not always about them.”

But this year Disney, who is going into second grade at West Seneca West Elementary School, and Johnathan, who is a first grader, will have something to tell their classes about what they did on their summer vacation.

“I love her. I hope she gets better,” Disney said of Sawyer, while Johnathan said he sold lemonade “to make Sawyer smile.”

Schunk may have achieved her goal, too. She wanted her children to learn compassion and empathy.

“I think that by learning that at a young age, maybe our world wouldn’t be in such a bad place now,” she said.

email: bobrien@buffnews.com

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