Here's a twist to the Lemonade Brigade: Wendy Roberts and friends (see above photo) from St. Mark's Lutheran Church turned their stand last Thursday into the charity.
Instead of selling lemonade to raise money for a charity, they gave it away -- to Charlotte's homeless.
All summer, Roberts has been coordinating "Servant Sundays," an effort to show the church's children that many other people are living lives much different from their own. They've stuffed book bags with comfort items for foster children, they've assembled toiletry kits for the rescue mission.
And in July, they helped launch "The Wall" mission that feeds the homeless Sunday afternoons at a wall where many homeless people congregate uptown. Congregants donate $1 each Sunday to pay for the food. They cook it in the church kitchen and serve it at The Wall to whomever needs a hot meal.
"We thought everyone can give up a cup of coffee a week and give a dollar," said Eric Timm, the church member who started The Wall ministry. "We felt that if you look at homelessness, you can't solve the problem, it's too great. But you can scale it down and make a difference in someone's life."
Roberts had been reading about the Lemonade Brigade in The Cliff and wanted to incorporate the idea into her mission.
She decided that rounding up children on a Sunday afternoon for an hour to sell lemonade for a charity was too difficult, so she asked a couple of friends to help her make and serve lemonade at The Wall.
In no time, three generations of volunteers -- children to grandmothers -- stepped up to help.
They went last Thursday about 11:15 a.m. In just over an hour, they served 125 people nearly 10 gallons of lemonade, 14 dozen cookies, 50 Popsicles and about 25 Klondike bars.
"We are striving hard to expose our children to the reality of life's struggles and to instill in them a caring and compassionate spirit of servanthood," Roberts said, whose 6-year-old son, Jace, helped with the lemonade stand. "Many of our children are so sheltered they don't realize what other kids are going through. We're trying to open their eyes."
There's nothing complex about her idea. Anybody can do it. Roberts would be the first to tell you.
"You just have to take the first step and do it," she said. "Certainly some of the things we've done seem like a drop in the bucket. But remember, the simplest thing -- sharing a smile, a kind word -- can change someone's day. The little things can mean the world to someone else.
"Don't go out there with the attitude that you're going to fix the problem with a glass of lemonade. But, at least for one day, that glass may have made a difference in those people's lives."
Serving it apparently made a difference for some of the young volunteers. Back at the church that afternoon, a 14-year-old girl told Roberts the lemonade stand was "one of the best experiences of my life."
They're already thinking about setting up a soup and hot chocolate stand at The Wall next winter.