Local kids came together this summer to lend a helping hand for causes that aid other children in their community.

MIAMI – Most students answer the question of what they did over summer break with swimming, playing, or vacation but a few local kids decided to help other kids.

Lemons to lemonade

Dane Jones, 7 of Miami, Harper Moore, 10 of Fairland, opened a lemonade stand on one of this summer's hottest days and raised an impressive $750.25 for children in need served by Child Advocates of Northeast Oklahoma – CASA. Another $325 was raised by online donations.

“It feels good to help,” Harper said. “Some kids don’t have a lot of clothes, a lot of shoes, a lot of toys, or a safe home. They don’t have a lot of things like we do.”

“It made me happy to help other kids,” Dane said with big a toothless grin.

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) are well-trained volunteers whose mission is to speak for the best interests of abused and neglected children in the courts of northeastern Oklahoma. CASA promotes and supports quality volunteer representation for children to provide each child a safe, permanent, and nurturing home.

"CASA is so grateful for the generosity of these wonderful children," Angela Henderson, Executive Director of CASA said. "Everyone who helped - parents, grandparents, donors, and Christy Jones and Farmers Insurance - should be proud of this brilliant fundraiser made possible by children for children."

Dane and Harper set up their stand for one day in front of Farmer’s Insurance Agency located at 707 East Steve Owens Blvd. in Miami. Owner Christy Jones is Dane’s mother and Cori Stotts, an agent at Farmer’s, is Harper’s mother.

Jones said the duo started making lemonade to sell to customers at her office, and they decided to try it on a larger scale. Their mothers helped make the lemonade but said the idea was the children’s and Dane and Harper did all the work.

“They sat and thought about who they wanted to help, and they wanted to do something local,” Jones said.

Surrounded by handmade signs, and bright cutouts of lemons and balloons Dane and Harper sold cups and cups of ice cold pink and yellow lemonade for one dollar a cup throughout the day. Harper said their goal was to make $300. The duo far exceeded that with a total of $1,075.25 raised for CASA.

“Sometimes people bought two cups and some just gave us money,” Harper said. “I want to do it again not just for CASA but for other programs.”

The community support pleasantly surprised Dane and Harper and their mothers.

“It was amazing to see. I was blown away by the amount of people who came out.” Jones said.

“I was reminded that day that our little town is pretty amazing. It was a hot Friday. The parking lot felt like an oven. I watched in awe as several members of our community took time out of their busy days, braved the heat, and showed two Miami kids that they mattered,” Stotts said. “That day people did more than buy lemonade, they helped an amazing organization. CASA is saving families and children and needs our help.”

As a sign of appreciation and gratitude Dane and Harper also gave free cups of lemonade to law enforcement, officers, firemen and teachers. Many law enforcement, firemen, emergency workers and teachers stopped by the stand to support the cause by donation and to get a cup of lemonade.

“We got coloring books and a badge from the police,” Harper said. “A mailman bought some.”

Dane said the police officers liked their lemonade, “They said ‘Um this is good!”

The lemonade stand was also posted on Jones’ Farmers Agency Facebook page and throughout the day a steady stream of customers stopped by. Jones and Stotts posted photos of customers and supporters with the kids all day long. Others who couldn’t make it to the lemonade stand made online donations to CASA through a link.

“The community showed two of our youth that charity and volunteering are important and lit a fire in them that I know will last a lifetime,” Stotts said. “To be honest I was worried Dane and Harper would go through all the work to set up their stand and no one would show up. I was worried it would discourage them from wanting to ever do something like that again. Miami did the opposite! They came car load after car load. I saw teachers, fireman, police officers, city employees, business owners, people I know, and some people I was just meeting for the first time. The important part is they came and showed that the good is so much bigger than the bad. As long as Miami has people like these our future is looking pretty bright.”

Jones, Stotts, Dane and Harper are thankful to all who supported the effort.

Last week Dane and Harper donated all of the proceeds from the lemonade stand and presented the donation to CASA’s Superhero and Marketing and Resource Development Coordinator Brandon Fletcher at the local Ottawa County CASA office located in Miami. The superhero is a theme used by the local CASA program because their volunteers are heroes to the children they serve.

Jones’ mission is to help the community in any way she can through her family-friendly agency and her agency has given hundreds of dollars in donated school supplies to local teachers.

“It’s important to us because our kids are growing up here. We want our kids to grow up helping other people. There’s so many people in need in our community that need help. We would rather spend whatever extra money we have on helping people,” she said.

Dane and Harper can often be seen on the Christy Jones Farmer’s Insurance Agency Facebook page telling jokes or performing magic tricks. They said their next project will be to sell hot cocoa during cold weather to support the animal shelter.

To volunteer, donate or for more information about CASA the program’s website is at www.cano-casa.com

Bracelets for school supplies

Generosity and compassion of children didn’t stop with just a lemonade stand.

Inspired by Dane and Harper’s efforts, Carli and Hayden Beckwith, ages 9 and 5 respectively, raised money for school supplies to donate to other children. They joined their efforts with the Frozen Elephant’s owner Eli Chenoweth’s school supply donation drive.

“They started out by just making rubber band bracelets and selling them for 50 cents a piece and people were donating more,” Carli and Hayden’s mother Sarah Beckwith said. “ They then decided they wanted to help with school supplies because they knew their supplies were taken care of, but there are a lot of kids who aren’t. Then when we saw Eli was donating everything I asked them if that’s what they wanted to do was donate there. They were thrilled too, especially since Eli is such an inspiration and great kid as well as our cousin.”

Editor's note: MNR's Associate Editor Melinda Stotts is the proud grandmother of Harper Moore, and she’s pretty fond of Dane Jones as well.

Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at mstotts@miaminewsrecord.com or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1.