Youngsters prepare for Lemonade Day with message at Happy State Bank

It sounds cliche and somewhat hyperbolic, but to Jesicka Martin it’s the truth.


When asked what her thoughts were about Lemonade Day, the national organization that teaches kids entrepreneurship one lemonade stand at a time, she said, “It gives the youth something to do to keep them off the streets. It’s a positive.”

Martin and her daughters D’Koda, 14, and Evelyn, 12, were joined by a few other kids in the lobby of Happy State Bank’s main branch in downtown Amarillo on Thursday to film a promotional commercial for Lemonade Day.

Started in 2007 in Houston, Lemonade Day is also the name of the nonprofit organization that leads the events in cities across the country and is “devoted to inspiring and cultivating a new generation of young entrepreneurs,” according to the organization. Now it serves more than 1 million youth in North America.

May 5 is the actual day kids turn opportunity into lemonade and sell their product throughout Amarillo. Between now and then, children in Amarillo will learn a four-part curriculum: setting a goal, making a plan, working the plan and achieving their dreams.

“It really is a remarkable program,” said J. Pat Hickman, the chairman and CEO of Happy State Bank. “These kids have to build business plans. They have to show what it costs to build a stand. How do you make the signs to put up? You can make it as elaborate as you want or you can make it as small as you want, but you have to put together your monetary plan of how much is it going to cost.

“How much are you going to need to sell the lemonade for? What does it cost to make one glass of lemonade, that’s actually one of the exercises they go through.”

It might be a stretch, but perhaps not. If Lemonade Day was around when Tony Hernandez was a kid, maybe his life would have been different.

Hernandez, who went to Caprock High School, will soon wed Martin. While watching the proceedings in the bank lobby, he said he remembers seeing the kids in his neighborhood wearing new shoes and new clothes and wanted that for himself.

He said he started selling something else. It was easy, risky and illegal. He eventually wound up in prison. He’s out now, and with the help of friends, family and his church, he’s on a better path. He has a job and speaks to youth about the dangers of selling drugs.

Keith Grays, who is the city director for Lemonade Day in Amarillo, echoed Hernandez. Grays, who graduated from Tascosa High School, said he also remembers local kids selling something less wholesome than lemonade. That’s why he’s so excited about this event, he said.

In addition to all the positives about the program, kids get to make cold, hard cash. Grays said that on average, kids make about $300 for the one day.

“It is their money,” Grays said. “They have three things they are asked to do (with the money they make): spend, save and share. So they can donate to their Little League Baseball team a percentage of what they earn. It can be five bucks.

“For every kid that has a stand, there’s normally two or three siblings or cousins. We’ve got maybe 500 kids, so that really equates to 1,500 kids all over Amarillo with lemonade stands.”

Another key component to the program is the adult participation.

“Kids have to have their parents involved or a guardian involved,” Hickman said, “because there’s some responsibility stuff here.”

Adults are asked to be a mentor, teacher/youth leader, business partner or investor. For those kids who might not have enough money to get their stand off the ground, they can ask for a $30 start-up loan. But they have to pay it back, Grays said with a smile.

Lemonade Day is partnering with the restaurant chain Raising Canes, which will include registration forms in the kids’ meals and information at the store. The organization also is working with Kids, Inc., the Maverick Boys and Girls Club of Amarillo and Canyon, and Amarillo Independent School District’s after-school programs to teach kids the curriculum, Hickman said.

For more information about the program, visit