Lemonade Stand for Safe Water: A Summer Activity for a Cause

We truly are spoiled here in Charleston: beaches, creeks, waterparks, and the South Carolina Aquarium. How fun to be surrounded by water! This summer, as we venture out under sunny skies, we can encourage our kids to consider the value of this resource – and have a blast doing it, too!

More than two billion people lack access to safe drinking water – that’s one-third of the world’s population.

A girl collects unsafe water in a community in Kenya

I recently shared this fact with my seven-year-old daughter by drawing a circle for a globe and shading a third of it with a black marker. I said, “This black part is where children don’t have safe drinking water.”

Her eyes widened. “Mom, that’s really sad!” she said. That night, she resolved to do something about the global water crisis. “I can do another lemonade stand!”

Cinelle Barnes’s daughter at her lemonade stand

My daughter was no lemonade-stand newbie. She’d been slicing and squeezing lemons, stirring simple syrup, and pouring fresh-made lemonade over ice for three summers. Last year had been her most successful run, bringing in an average of $50 an hour. This year, she hoped to beat her record and do it for a cause: raise support for Water Mission, a Christian engineering nonprofit based in North Charleston that provides safe water, sanitation, and hygiene solutions in rural communities and disaster areas around the world.

Excited about the activity and moved by her generosity, I pulled out our special stash of neon markers and began making signs for her stand. One sign said: Thirsty? Imagine if you had to walk three miles for a drink. I was referring to the average distance of the trek millions around the world must make each day to collect water.

A group of women carry safe water back to their homes in Nueva Reforma, Peru

My daughter colored in the bubble letters and drew blue splashes across the sign. “Safe water for everyone!” she said.

That third 90-degree Saturday in May, she raised more than $400 through cash donations, a PayPal credit card reader on her daddy’s iPad, and several Instagram pledges fulfilled through Venmo. She met both goals of increasing her profits and helping out.

Fundraising through lemonade stands shows that everyone can make an impact, no matter their age

I believe that her soapbox attitude made an impact on passersby. She said, repeatedly, “Every $45 gives safe water to a kid for life!” This gave her patrons an exact amount to give, as opposed to just spare change. It also educated them on the impact of their generosity. This, and situating the lemonade stand at a busy street corner, multiplied the fruits of her labor.

I am so proud of her, and I am so thankful that she has not been alone in this endeavor — kids of all ages have creatively demonstrated support for Water Mission through the years:

  • In 2017, 13-year-old Scotty Parker rode his bike across the country to raise money for safe water. He rode from California to South Carolina and raised more than $600,000!
  • Loulou Byars, an Ashley Hall grad and current Water Mission intern, sent handwritten letters to her parents’ friends and raised $50,000 for safe water projects in Chiapas, Mexico.
  • A local Girl Scout troop raised $500 by selling their highly-coveted cookies to provide safe water and sanitation for refugees in Northern Uganda.
  • Mia Llamas, a determined girl from Virginia, raised thousands of dollars by hosting birthday campaigns, a Zumbathon, and two Walks for Water with her church. She did this all before she turned 14.
  • Seventh-graders at the School of the Arts in North Charleston sold bracelets door-to-door, caught mudminnows to sell as bait, and played music on Second Sunday for cash donations. Over the last four years, they’ve raised more than $46,000.
  • Numerous local schools have participated in inspirational tours at Water Mission’s headquarters, Walks for Water, and programs through Educators Think Tank, a volunteer-led initiative that educates students on the global water crisis.
After a successful day manning her stand, Cinelle Barnes’s daughter enjoys a cup of lemonade

This summer, my daughter and I hope to see families across the country rally together to bless others with safe water. For tips and tools to help with your lemonade stand, visit to download your free kit.

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