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These kids are saving sea turtles, one cup of lemonade at a time
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Omnira Patel, 6, pours a cup of lemonade for a customer during the Gainesville Farmers Market in downtown Gainesville on Friday, June 14, 2019. All proceeds from the lemonade stand will be donated to charity. - photo by Austin Steele

Lemons, sugar and water — that’s all a group of Gainesville kids is using to raise money for charity.

They’re running all over the Gainesville square pitching their pop-up lemonade stand, Lemonade Love, at the Gainesville Farmers Market each week.

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Omnira Patel, 6, left, hands a customer a cup of lemonade during the Gainesville Farmers Market in downtown Gainesville on Friday, June 14, 2019. - photo by Austin Steele

“I really wanted to do it for charity,” said Omnira Patel, 6.

She’s the brains — and the saleswoman — behind the stand. After her mother, Shrina Patel, showed her a story about another young child who started her own lemonade stand that ended up turning into a full-fledged business, Omnira thought she could do the same.

So she gathered all her friends from Waldorf & Wonder and started selling as soon as she could.

Phil Loveless stopped by the stand to buy some lemonade, Friday, June 14, but he said it wasn’t because he was parched.

“It wasn’t because of the lemonade, it was her,” Loveless said as he pointed at Omnira.

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Shrina Patel, left, helps Caroline Jacobsen, 6, right, prepare a cup of lemonade during the Gainesville Farmers Market in downtown Gainesville on Friday, June 14, 2019. - photo by Austin Steele

The 6-year-old has taken the heart the old adage, “Don’t take no for an answer.”

When the stand is up and running, she’s constantly asking people if they want some lemonade. Sometimes she knows a passerby wants some lemonade before they do — telling them they need a drink while she pours a cup. 
It’s clear by now that Omrina is passionate about the business and raising money for a good cause.

Before they were able to get things underway, though, the kids had to come up with a name that expressed their mission. She said they went back and forth on a few different options and eventually landed on Lemonade Love.

“As the name says, it’s just about showing love and having fun while doing it,” Shrina Patel said. “As a mother, I was like, ‘I want to make this happen. Let’s do it. But let’s do some good at the same time.’”

Patel gathered some other mothers to help, and together, they set up a table with fresh-made lemonade served over ice with a yellow-and-white-striped paper straw and miniature Hawaiian umbrella to boot.

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Caroline Jacobsen, 6, prepares lemonade to sell during the Gainesville Farmers Market in downtown Gainesville on Friday, June 14, 2019. - photo by Austin Steele

“It’s just good to have the kids involved in the community and be a part of something,” said LaSha Ackerman, whose kids, Lillie and Luc, help with the stand. “It’s so easy to be selfish, so easy to only focus on your own needs and wants. It’s good for them to learn at an early age that they need to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.”

And it looks like they have learned that lesson quite well. When the mothers asked the group what they wanted the money to go toward, the kids all shouted things like, “I want to save the turtles” and “I want to save the rivers.”

“We kind of went behind the scenes and found what matched those interests and where we could donate,” said Meredith Jacobsen, whose kids Caroline, Harris and Finn, help with the stand.

Their first profits ended up being about $75 and it all went to Chattahoochee Riverkeeper. Their next time out at the farmers market, they raised $121 for My Sister's Place. Next up on the list is the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and Honor the Earth.

“We want to help animals,” said Caroline, 6. “The animals that live in the wild. Like turtles and dolphins. I love dolphins. They’re my favorite animal.”

Although none of the moms involved have ever organized a lemonade stand, they’re all happy to pitch in, especially when it helps charity.

“They’re all very hippie children,” Ackerman said, laughing. “We’re kind of hippie moms with hippie kids. Waldorf & Wonder is a very hippie business, so this is just an extension.”

Hippie or not, the kids are doing their part in helping and learning all about the community they live in.

“I try to talk to them a lot about it, because we want them to be good citizens of the world,” Jacobsen said.

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Caroline Jacobsen, 6, left, sells lemonade during the Gainesville Farmers Market in downtown Gainesville on Friday, June 14, 2019. - photo by Austin Steele
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