LemonAid Fundraiser Shows Charity & Commercial Enterprises a Great Mix

LemonAid-5-Lemon Aid signIn the neighboring town of River Forest, there is a block that has been designated LemonAid Place.

It’s in honor of the residents of the 700 block of Bonnie Brae Place who, since 2002, have transformed their quiet street into a fundraising mecca for one charity after another.

The “Kids Helping Kids” Bonnie Brae LemonAid Stand happens every year, rain or shine, weekday or weekend, on September 11th. As a result, what began as a simple idea that raised $400 that first year has now generated over $100,000 for 12 different organizations over the last 12 years.

And, in the process, they have transformed the tragedy of the September 11 terrorist attacks into a triumph of the human spirit.

LemonAid-3-Together We are Better banner

Spending an hour with my family at the fundraiser this past week, I was moved by banners such as one that declared “Together We Are Better” and was signed by children two years ago, on the 10th anniversary of the attacks; I was amused by the various renditions of “Call Me, Maybe” performed under a karaoke tent; and I was blessed to see the variety of people, young and old, who came from around Chicagoland to be a part of it all.

This event, a cause bigger than any one individual, has grown to the point that now the business community, in larger numbers, is showing its commitment and support.

Whole Foods Market River Forest supplied all the lemonade, as well as other treats and educational materials; Burger Boss made trays upon trays of more than 1,000 mini-burgers that, so tantalizing, almost made me forget I am vegetarian; and there was too much to enumerate from a number of other proprietors, including my college classmate Becca Kaufman, who spearheaded the musical entertainment (and persevered through some rather off-key karaoke performances).

LemonAid-9-big food spreadI was so impressed by the business community’s involvement that I made a point of taking a photograph of a sign (below) listing those businesses contributing to the cause. That way, I could make a concerted effort to patronize them in the future.

LemonAid-2-list of sponsors

So later that evening, I shook my head as I read a comment posted at the end of a story about the fundraiser on a local newspaper website

The individual (posting anonymously, of course) stated that it was “off-putting to see for-profit businesses in the mix. They detract from the essential character of the event.”

What the critic apparently believes is that only individuals have the requisite “essential character” to qualify as community-minded. Seems like that person believes corporations, somehow, are faceless entities whose sole aim is profit—when in reality, corporations and businesses of any size or stripe are composed of human beings who don’t shed their humanity at the front door of their business.

As a Forbes writer recently began in his piece, “Amway, GM And Dollar General Among Corporations Making ‘Good’ A Goal”:

“If you look for examples of corporations doing good in the world—as I have—you won’t want for examples. Once you open your eyes to it you see it everywhere.”

For anyone with eyes to see, one of the companies prominently featured in that story, Amway, has a 33-page Global Corporate Social Responsibility Report. If you take just a few minutes to skim its contents, you will come away with a clear view of the corporation’s “essential character.”

Also known as a Corporate Citizenship Report, the document lays out the scope of impact that the Amway corporation has been making all around the world.

To name only a few initiatives: building houses for those in need, helping others recover from natural disasters and, in the last 10 years alone, having an impact on more than 10 million children through its Amway One by One Campaign for Children.

Amway-10 Years of Impact with One to OneThe range of efforts, in country after country, is simply staggering. And by fostering a culture of service, and seeking to empower others to improve their lives, Amway has had a tremendous ripple effect on those inspired by their example.

For instance, it is no coincidence that a leading organization that has helped people build Amway businesses since the late 1970s, World Wide DreamBuilders, has provided significant financial help to a variety of organizations doing good work.

One such example is John C. Maxwell’s EQUIP Ministry, for which WWDB and its IBOs have raised $1.5 million over the past seven years. Those funds, in turn, are poured into helping develop leaders across the globe–so far, EQUIP has trained millions of people in 174 countries.

WWDB is just one of many organizations whose Independent Business Owners are doing some important life-changing work in their communities.

Doing well in business, and doing good in life, can go hand-in-hand.

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