As Okaloosa County schools remained closed on Thursday, most kids would want to spend their extra day off playing video games or doing something fun. But a group of six special Destin children decided to spend their day helping others.
At 9 a.m. Thursday, sisters Isadora and Yasmin Vicente, Amy, Ellie and Will Blows, and Blake Adams opened an old-fashioned lemonade stand in front of their townhouse complex off Airport Road to help raise money for the victims of Hurricane Michael.
“We were just bored so we decided to do something,” 8-year-old Ellie said.
“Because some people lost their houses and they need money,” 9-year-old Yasmin chimed in.
Charging $1 a cup with an option of strawberry or classic lemonade, they had already raised $75 of their $100 goal by 2:30 p.m., said Melissa Griffiths, the mom of 8-year-old Blake Adams.
“We’ve had people come by and just hand them money," Griffiths said. "They didn’t even want lemonade, they just wanted to help.”
“She’s our manager,” Amy said about Griffiths.
Griffiths said seeing the kids do something so unselfish makes her proud and grateful for their loving hearts.
“My husband and I always go to Apalachicola for our honeymoon, so it’s rough to know it barely missed us,” Griffiths said about the nearby destruction. “It has a huge pull on my heart.”
Sisters Amy and Ellie have run a lemonade stand in their neighborhood before and had the idea to do it again Thursday.
“They are such good kids,” Griffiths said. “They’re always out here playing.”
The tables the kids used to sell the lemonade were decorated with fall decorations, flowers and homemade signs.
“Do you like my sign?” Yasmin asked. “I drew the pumpkin myself.”
Throughout the day, the friends took turns holding a sign by Airport Road to help draw people in.
“So many people have been by,” Griffiths said. “I’ve been posting on Facebook, trying to get their friends to stop by. Their bus driver and a few people from their schools have come.”
The money raised will be donated to either a charity working with the hurricane victims or directly to a person affected by the storm.
Amy had an idea about how to make sure it gets into the right hands.
“We’re gonna mail it to the mayor,” the 10-year-old said.
By 4:30 p.m. Thursday, they raised $103 and were surprised by Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Sonya Shepard, the school resource officer for Destin Elementary School. Shepard was on her way to Panama City Beach to help with relief efforts and decided to stop by to collect the money the kids had raised.
"They were ecstatic to say the least," Griffiths said about the kids seeing Deputy Shepard. "They are already talking about doing the stand again this weekend."