A stand against cancer

The Baltimore Sun

It's a Casual Thursday at James Kendig's small business.

Donning a maroon T-shirt, jean shorts and some old pins he found at his grandmother's house, James considers himself the manager. He supervises advertising, money-handling and customer service, and he takes his job seriously - even if he does work barefoot.

But this isn't an ordinary operation. James is spending part of his summer running a lemonade stand to raise money for the American Cancer Society. And he's only 9 years old.

"I was at a restaurant and I was just squeezing lemons into my water," said James, a rising fifth-grader at Stevens Forest Elementary School. "Then I thought of doing my lemonade stand, and after that I thought of my grandmother because she had died of cancer. So I made my lemonade stand for the American Cancer Society to help find a cure for cancer."

About two weeks after opening for business at the end of his driveway on Stevens Forest Road, James had raised more than $200.

And "Lemonade for Cancer Aid" - a slogan James made up - isn't his only association with the American Cancer Society. This year, he attended his sixth Relay for Life, a program he's been participating in since he was 3. He also plans to swim in tomorrow's Stevens Forest Neighborhood Pool Swim-a-thon, an all-night event that James said typically raises more than $8,000 for the American Cancer Society.

That's also the event at which James will donate the proceeds from his lemonade stand, which takes a few hours of work each day.

"You have to find people who actually want to help out with the lemonade stand, like advertising people who stand up in the median strip on the road and hold up signs. We have our lemonade stand down at the end of the driveway, and we have to set up tables and set up all the chairs," he said. "And also for making the lemonade, you have to squeeze the lemons with the lemon press, and you have to put in the right amount of sugar and water."

It's a labor-intensive endeavor. Before the lemonade goes on sale, James squeezes 15 lemons, fills two plastic containers with the drink, grabs the money holder and two types of cups (a 50 cent size and a $1 size) and drags a cream-colored table with red plastic legs down to the end of his driveway across the street from his elementary school.

"The best time to start is around 4:50 p.m. or 5 p.m. because that's around rush hour," James said. "We've had a whole bunch of donations. This one lady stopped by and just gave us $5 and didn't even buy any lemonade. We've actually had a few people who stopped my dad to tell him they like my lemonade."

James has neighbors, friends and his brothers' friends help with the stand.

His neighbors, Octavia and Xavier Lewis-Arbona, were part of the staff on a recent day. Octavia, a rising sixth-grader who will be home-schooled, takes charge of the money box, and Xavier, a rising sixth-grader at Oakland Mills Middle, is working the advertising, trying to attract drivers to the stand.

"It's better than doing chores," Octavia said. Her brother, Xavier, said he also enjoys selling lemonade, and that this is his second summer working to raise money for a cure for cancer.

Tina Seldon of Columbia stopped for some lemonade with her daughters - Merina, 7, and Anais, 4.

"We're very involved with the swim team as well, so we love to support finding a cure for cancer," Seldon said. "This is just a great stand they've got going here."

But no one's more impressed than James' parents, Theresa and Greg Kendig.

"He's our little entrepreneur," Theresa Kendig said. "And the fact that he's doing all this to find a cure for cancer, that's what's so wonderful."

James thinks his work will help find a cure for cancer, and he knows his grandmother - who died when he was 3 - would be proud. When he gets older, he's going to donate as much money as he can to the American Cancer Society.

James is the youngest of three brothers and loves sports - swimming and basketball are his top two - and his favorite subject in school is reading.

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