Detroit is at least $100 million in debt, but that hasn’t discouraged 9-year-old Joshua Smith (pictured) from setting up a lemonade and popcorn stand in front of his home to help the city out of its financial crisis, the Detroit Free Press reports.
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The boy–or perhaps, young philanthropist in the making–was on his way to piano lessons one day when he noticed that the grass at the parks near his home was as tall he is (Joshua stands nearly 5-feet). He also observed that water fountains were broken. After some thinking, Joshua told his parents that he wanted to open a lemonade stand to help Detroit take care of itself.
Flynn and Rhonda Smith, his parents, were impressed with their son’s audacious plan.
“I’m really proud of him; he wasn’t asking how can he make money to buy himself something. My wife and I were talking about this earlier — neither of us ever thought to do anything like this when we were kids,” Flynn Smith, a high school math teacher and associate pastor told the Free Press.
What he and his wife did not tell their young, ambitious son is that his efforts would have virtually no financial impact on the city’s debt.
WATCH Joshua Talk About His Plans To Help Detroit With Its Finances
But they were committed to helping their child do something special. With a nearly $100 investment in food, Joshua’s parents helped their son pop the popcorn, expand the menu and and pass out flyers advertising the stand.
The flyer says: “May you please help the City of Detroit. Please buy this popcorn and drinks. It’s not so expensive. I didn’t make it expensive so you would have to spend all your money. The money will help clean up trash on the ground and cut the grass in the parks.”
From 5-8 p.m. each day, Monday through Friday, Joshua can be seen selling fruit punch (which he says is organic), water and popcorn (which he says is seasoned with sea salt) in front of his home.
Word of the boy’s efforts spread quickly and neighbors quickly dropped by to purchase popcorn and lemonade.
Here is more from the Free Press:
Rhonda Smith (Joshua’s mom) said she got good responses from friends who are spreading the word through Facebook and other social media.
Kim Trent, a childhood friend of hers, posted a notice about Joshua’s sale on her Facebook page and heard from friends across the country. That’s when she suggested that Smith allow donations through her PayPal account.
“I posted it and my friends posted it. I had friends as far as Oregon asking how they could contribute,” Trent said. She stopped to buy popcorn and water on her way home from work.
“I live in Detroit. I’m a native Detroiter. When I heard this I was so touched, first of all by the level of sensitivity. Most 9-year-olds aren’t civically engaged enough to know the city is broke, but for him to not only understand it, but want to do something about it, I was just so touched.”
Joshua’s aunt and uncle, Byron and Sharon Moore, stopped by Monday with their three children, ages 3 to 7. Sharon Moore said Joshua’s desire to help is typical of his character.
“This baby has been like this since he was little,” she said. “I promise you, whenever he’d see a situation, he’d want to do something. I remember him telling his mom about a kid being bullied. His mom asked what he did, he said he prayed for the bully and the kid being bullied and he told the bully, ‘You shouldn’t say that.’”
On one Monday evening, Joshua made $69 after a few hours. He wants to raise much more, but he at least wants to show the Motor City’s top executive that he cares about his hometown. Here is what a letter to the mayor with his first earnings for the city will say:
“Dear Mr. Mayor, I’m sending this money because I hear the city is broke and I’m hoping to raise $1,000 or more so we can have lots of money, so we can cut grass and fix the water fountains in the park.”
Of all of the negative stories that come out of Detroit, this one, by far, has to be among the best and newsworthy. At only 9-years-old, this young man is already grooming himself to be a major contributor to the city in which he lives. We all should follow his lead and celebrate his efforts!
If you want to help this young man help Detroit, please consult the information below.
How To Help!
Joshua Smith’s Lemonade Stand is being held 5-8 p.m. daily through Friday. Find it at 4252 Leslie, Detroit 48238.
PayPal donations accepted via www.musingsofastrongblack woman.com. For info, call 313-715-5510 or e-mail rhondajsmith @rhondajsmith.com.