YORKTOWN — Hampton Christian Academy ninth grade student Bentley Jefferson has raised almost $14,000 for the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters since 2012.
When Jefferson was just three years old, she saw a commercial on television about helping the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters (CHKD) by selling lemonade. Having seen her grandfather suffer from cancer, she immediately fell in love with the idea. Jefferson rushed to find her mother and begged her to let her participate.
“I hadn’t seen the commercial beforehand, and she comes running down the hallway and she says ‘can I make lemonade to help kids with cancer?’ and I’m like ‘what?'” Kathy Jefferson, Bentley Jefferson’s mother, remembers fondly. “She was like, ‘Lemonade! You can sell lemonade to help to help kids with cancer!'”
The first year she participated in the program she set up her lemonade stand in her driveway. With a kit provided by the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters called Anthem LemonAid, Jefferson built a stand with her father to help raise money for children with cancer. Since then, the lemonade stand has moved and expanded.
“I met this kid, I don’t remember how old he was but he said he was at CHKD and told me where all my money went to and different things that he personally saw the money being spent on and how it helped him. So that was pretty cool,” Jefferson said.
Over time Jefferson and her family wanted to do more. After a year of running the lemonade stand, her mother suggested they also host a yard sale to draw in more people. Their neighbors gave them items to sell and then they put up signs.
Ultimately, it led to Jefferson and her family getting involved with the the Classic Cruisers Car Club of Yorktown.
“The second year we had done it, we had gone to a cruise-in the classic cruiser’s car club was having. And I took it upon myself and I asked the president at the time, Blair, and Bentley asked him if she could come to the parking lot to sell lemonade,” Kathy Jefferson said. “And of course who was going to tell a four-year-old no?”
This led to the family becoming full-fledged members of the club in the summer of 2014, thanks to their rebuild of a 1967 Ford Mustang in tandem with the lemonade stand. Since then, she’s volunteered at the club’s cruise-ins on Saturday nights, helping to collect money, set out chairs, and pick up trash. Throughout the month of July, Jefferson runs her lemonade stand.
Typically, the lemonade fundraiser is only one weekend in the month of July, but Jefferson still wanted to do more. Two years ago, she decided she wanted to sell lemonade every Saturday night to raise more money for the cause. With the support of the car club, Jefferson started setting up her lemonade stand every Saturday night from 4:30-8 p.m. throughout the month of July.
Sometimes Jefferson’s neighbors will help with the lemonade stand, but typically, Jefferson will manage the lemonade stand by herself or with help of her parents. Her mother jokingly refers to them as Jefferson’s “Uber-Drivers.”
Outside of the lemonade stand, Jefferson is also active in community service.
“I do this thing with my church where every second and fourth Monday of the month we give food to the homeless, and then I’ve done Wes Strong (Wes Strong Foundation) trash cleanup on the side of the road, and Vacation Bible School working in the nursery. I also started selling jewelry during the pandemic,” Jefferson recounts.
This year’s lemonade season has wrapped, with Jefferson raising $2,000 in donations from the local car club community, spectators at the cruise-ins, and a generous donation from Plumbers and Fitters Local #110.
Information on the Classic Cruisers Car Club’s 2023 schedule will be posted on its website when it is released, and nformation about the Anthem LemonAid program can also be found its website for those interested in opening a lemonade stand to help children fight cancer.