NAIT grad celebrates 10 years of giving back through Lemonade Stand Day

Annual event has raised more than $1.6 million for children's health

Once again, Albertans will see lemonade stands pop up throughout the province this summer as part of Lemonade Stand Day, an annual event that celebrates its tenth anniversary on Aug. 27.

And as they have during each year past, they’ll contribute to an effort set in motion by Monita Chapman (Marketing ’06) that has supported the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Lemonade Stand Day came out of a difficult time, says Chapman, an entrepreneur and mother of three. In 2011, she purchased Simply Supper, the meal-prep business she continues to run today. That same year, her stepfather passed away and her youngest daughter required continuous care from the Stollery in Edmonton.

The following summer, Chapman’s kids hosted a lemonade stand at a garage sale to sell her stepfather’s belongings. The family decided to donate the $76 in profits from the lemonade stand to the Stollery.

“Our charitable giving side of Simply Supper came from a really tragic time in my life personally, in a very moving time, and we had so many great ideas come out of that,” says Chapman. “That’s how Lemonade Stand Day was born.”

As Chapman likes to say, “When life gives you lemons, you just make lemonade.”

To date, all that lemonade has raised more than $1.6 million to advance children’s health care.

More than money

After registering for the event online, the young participants – whom Chapman calls Junior Lemon Squeezers – are equipped by Simply Supper with everything they need to run their own lemonade stand to raise funds for the Stollery.

But the donations are only part of the point of Lemonade Stand Day. Over the years, Chapman has seen multiple benefits for the kids staffing the stands.

One important goal, she says, is to give them a taste of some of what she learned at NAIT, such as entrepreneurship, marketing and customer service.

For Chapman’s son, the experience is more about having fun and meeting people, which leads to personal growth. As the youngest child in the family, he’s following the footsteps of his older sisters – considered “Veteran Junior Lemon Squeezers” by Chapman.

“They sometimes don't realize where [their confidence came] from, but it has come from doing events like this. I've pushed them into hard things, they've watched me do hard things, but then we've also had fun along the way.”

Other veterans see Lemonade Stand Day as being about tradition, community and gratitude.

“For my daughter who spent lots of time in the Stollery, it's a way for her to say thank you,” says Chapman. She knows other families participate for the same reason, often inviting their doctors to their stand to help celebrate their journey.

 “Everybody takes from it what they want, and that's the beauty of Lemonade Stand Day,” says Chapman.

The lemonade trail

nait grad monita chapman and her family selling lemonade on lemonade stand day

Currently, there are more than 545 stands registered for 2023, and 6,500 kids who have participated in Lemonade Stand Day since it started.

The momentum has risen steadily each year – even during COVID, when the event “became more about how to learn to be safe in public than it did about raising money,” says Chapman. In 2020, kids still managed to set up 250 stands, raising more than $168,000.

As Lemonade Stand Day continues to grow, Chapman has been helping other regions in Canada contribute to local children’s hospitals through the same concept. Here at home, the event has taken on a life of its own. Even with her marketing background, Chapman says that the organizers behind Lemonade Stand Day don’t put much time into promotion. Instead, the success is due to the enthusiasm and creativity of Lemon Squeezers.

“You see those kids’ personalities come out in each stand.”

Still, Chapman can’t resist plugging an event that has created a lot of fun and offered a decade’s worth of experience in philanthropy and entrepreneurship.

Lemonade Stand Day stands can be found using an online map. Chapman encourages thirsty patrons to create a Lemonade Stand Day Trail to visit multiple locations. It makes the kids’ days to see someone outside of their family and friends show up for a drink, she says.

“They're smiling from the minute they pick up their kit to the minute we announce the grand total.”

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