A dark green pop-up tent shielded Harper and Landon Smith from the scorching South Carolina sun a couple Saturdays ago.
The sister and brother, 5 and 7 respectively, waited patiently at a table sitting at the end of their driveway with big smiles on their faces.
The summer heat was sure to draw in customers to buy $1 cups of pink lemonade.
But the Smith siblings weren’t operating just any old lemonade stand.
They soon would be running a multi-thousand dollar fundraiser.
A week later, it still seems far from over.
Their mom Sarah Smith, a Hilton Head real estate agent, said the idea for the lemonade stand began after their family returned safely from evacuating for Hurricane Dorian and were watching coverage of the destruction in the Bahamas.
Sarah showed Harper and Landon photos of the damage and explained what the hurricane did to the islands.
She said it was obvious they were effected and they began asking her “a million questions.”
Then, she asked them one.
“What should we do to help?”
Eventually, that brainstorming process turned into “Lemonade for Bahamas.”
The Smiths set up shop on September 7 at the end of their Jarvis Creek Club neighborhood driveway with a pitcher of lemonade and colorful homemade posters.
Sarah also posted a photo of the stand on social media saying she’d match the day’s sales and the money started rolling in.
That day, the lemonade stand collected $452.
“It did so well that I text all my friends in the neighborhood and said, ‘Hey, let’s do this again tomorrow,’” Sarah said.
The neighborhood kids showed up in droves the next afternoon to help with baked cookies, more lemonade, new signs, and excited attitudes.
As the amount of lemonade stand employees grew, so did the funds.
“The donations keep coming in,” Sarah said. “When I woke up this morning, I had $250 more than when I went to bed last night.”
The stand had collected a total of about $10,000 in cash, checks, and Venmo as of Saturday morning.
Sarah has been in touch with the American Red Cross and is continuing to work with them to see where the money is most needed in the Bahamas and to ensure it gets there.
“I’m not going to just hand over a check and let it go away,” Sarah said. “I want everyone who donated to know where the money is going and what it’s doing.”
She plans to continue posting photo and video updates and might even travel to the Bahamas herself to see the donations in action.
She said contributions have come from all over, but about 90% is from Hilton Head residents and businesses, which speaks to the generosity of the people on the island.
“We’ve dodged so many bullets with these storms and were lucky this one completely missed us,” Sarah said. “So, we’re rallying our community together to help another island that wasn’t so lucky.
“We’ve said it from the beginning, ‘From one island to another.’”
Sarah said the fundraising isn’t over yet, though, and the new goal is now $15,000.
She added Harper and Landon are still just as enthusiastic about the project and helping people as they were when it started.
Across the bridge in Bluffton, other Beaufort County students also raised thousands of dollars for Hurricane Dorian relief.
Bluffton High School’s fundraiser called Bills for the Bahamas raised $2,200 in just three days, Principal Denise Garison said.