-- A 10-year-old Florida girl raised nearly $10,000 to help rebuild her family’s home by literally turning lemons into lemonades.
Alyssa De La Sala, a fourth-grader from Tampa, Florida, held a lemonade stand sale on Saturday to help her family raise the approximately $70,000 they need immediately to finish construction on their home.
Alyssa’s family’s home was destroyed in a fire in March 2013. The cause of the fire was never determined, but it began in the garage and swept through the home’s roof, requiring the family to rebuild from scratch.
A contractor originally stated the reconstruction work would take six to eight months, but over two years later the family is still not in their home, according to Alyssa’s dad, Joe De La Sala.
The family is staying in an apartment while they await completion of their home, but as of December 2014 the insurance payments for the apartment ran out, meaning the De La Salas are paying both their mortgage and the apartment’s rent.
“It started a roller coaster of money I had to come up with,” said De La Sala, whose family also includes a wife, Jenn, and 13-year-old son, in addition to Alyssa. “We started scrambling for money.”
“The insurance company still has $50,000 left of the money so we’re trying to figure out how to come up with the rest,” he said, referring to the $80-$100,000 estimate they received from a new contractor they’ve since hired.
Alyssa came up with the idea to hold a lemonade stand to raise money and De La Sala says he did not pay much attention at first.
“She says, ‘Daddy, I can have a lemonade stand,’ and I, as a dad, am like, ‘Sure honey you can have a lemonade stand,’” De La Sala recalled.
Alyssa took it upon herself to write a letter to “The Kane Show,” a radio show broadcast in markets across the country, asking them to advertise her lemonade stand on the show. She also created a flyer and handed it out at school and across the community.
“The Kane Show” spoke about Alyssa’s efforts on the air and soon her little lemonade stand exploded into a community event.
Alyssa’s lemonade stand on Saturday, in front of the family’s half-built home, raised nearly $10,000, according to De La Sala.
“I was totally amazed by the turnout,” he said. “There are a lot of people who are in a lot worse situations but to see people still come out and support us for what we’re going through it’s really amazing. I’m at a loss of words.”
De La Sala says he was particularly touched by a dad who had just lost his 13-year-old son to cancer and told him, “Life is short. Life is precious,” and made a $100 donation.
“He said, 'For her to do this, you must be doing a good job,'” De La Sala recalled.
Another visitor to the lemonade stand was a 7-year-old boy who asked his mom to bring him after hearing about it on the radio. De La Sala says the boy brought Alyssa a blanket, a book and some toys.
Now the family, who also have a GoFundMe page, are focusing on responding to pledges from other contractors and specialists to help with construction and from a local restaurant that wants to allow Alyssa to hold another lemonade sale at their restaurant.
“It really was an emotional time,” De La Sala said.