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Student Lemonade Stand to Benefit Homeless

When Reese Hurley decided to raise money to support a cause by having a lemonade stand, she rounded up her schoolmates, set up a table in her driveway and devoted two full summer days to the effort.

The result– with some help from her savvy mom, Julie Hurley– Reese and friends Aubrey Grutter and Alexa Deising raised nearly $800 for Well House, a Grand Rapids organization that provides safe, affordable housing for formerly homeless people. The $150 raised from the lemonade stand continued to grow after the girls closed shop, thanks to social media and word-of-mouth.

From left, Alexa Deising, Reese Hurley, Aubrey Grutter and Brynna Grutter have their envelope filled with money raised ready to deliver

While the Marshall Elementary students, who live in the same neighborhood, peddled their lemonade for 50 cents a cup, they received many larger donations after explaining their cause.

Reese and Aubrey, second-graders, and Alexa, a fourth-grader, explained how they yelled “Well House!” to passersby and talked about their mission.

It all started one day in July when Reese told her mother she wanted to have a lemonade stand. Julie Hurley helped her find a cause to support. Reese had earlier noticed a man on a street holding a sign that said he was homeless and needed help, which inspired her to choose Well House.

She said she hopes money raised can be spent on new doors and windows at the Well House homes.

“It felt pretty good,” Reese said of donating the money. “They get new stuff, like windows and doors.”

Superintendent and Community Foundation Support

The total raised from the stand was about $150. Reese’s mom Julie Hurley spread the word on Facebook and started a GoFundMe site. The Grand Rapids Community Foundation matched the $64 the girls raised on the first day. They got the attention of Byron Center Public Schools Superintendent Dan Takens, who also made a donation.

From left, Reese Hurley, Aubrey Grutter and Alexa Deising spent two summer days selling lemonade to raise money for Well House

The girls presented the money to Well House executive director Tami VandenBerg, who gave them a tour of the houses. Well House has helped more than 5,000 people out of homelessness since 1977. People rent rooms in three houses on Cass Avenue SE, for as long as they wish, at an affordable rent.

Marshall Elementary School Principal Chris Ruiter said he plans to recognize the girls at an assembly for showing great character.

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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