When life gives you lemons, help the homeless: Local boy uses lemonade stand to raise funds for homelessness prevention

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Most children spend their summers relaxing, whether it be at vacation destinations with their families of playing video games in their rooms until the crack of dawn.

One LaGrange boy did something a little bit different.

Bentlie Kusiak, 9, spent the majority of his summer operating a lemonade/sweet stand on the lawn of his aunt Shara Jenkins. And the reason for this summertime feature was for completely selfless reasons.

Kusiak created the stand to raise funds for the LaGrange-Troup County Homeless Coalition to aid in its homelessness prevention initiatives. Since opening the stand, which he’s named Food for Homeless [FFH], he’s garnered just over $1,700, every cent of which is going to the homeless coalition. 

“I wanted to find some way to help others,” Kusiak said.

Kusiak said he got the idea last summer after witnessing the struggles of several homeless individuals in his aunt’s neighborhood. Kusiak wanted to do something to help and came up FFH. Currently, he has a goal of raising about $1,900.

Three days a week, Kusiak and his aunt, often aided by Kusiak’s little brother, Aiden, wait on Jenkins’ lawn for cars, holding a whiteboard with the day’s treats: muffins, cookies and, of course, homemade lemonade.

“We’re raising money to buy supplies for the homeless,” Kusiak recites before selling the passerby their treat. “We also tell that nothing goes to us.”

Several businesses have already donated supplies in response to Kusiak’s efforts, Jenkins said, which he immediately donated to the soup kitchen at First United Methodist Church along with several Bibles.

Jenkins said the money they raise at the end of the week will go to the LaGrange-Troup County Homeless Coalition to aid in its newly formed Men’s Ministry. 

Kusiak wants to continue FFH at least until he reaches middle school, he said.

When he grows up, he said he wants to be an astronaut and film YouTube videos on the moon. He said he may practice filming by recording his efforts for a possible YouTube channel. He said he’s excited to tell his fellow classmates about his project when he goes into fourth grade at Franklin Forest Elementary School in August and hopes his classmates may want to help next year.

“When we were first talking about [FFH], he said, ‘I’m just a child,’ and I said a child can change the world,” Jenkins said. “He is realizing now he is changing the community and, if he wants to change the world, it’s possible now.”

Friday will be the last day Kusiak will operate the stand for the summer. If you happen to be traveling down S. Lewis St., keep an eye out for a small lemonade stand. There’s a lot happening there.