Following the bombings at the Boston Marathon on Patriots’ Day, Abigail Walsh and Ainsley Leahy, both 10, wanted to do something to help the victims.
On Wednesday, the girls opened a lemonade stand. They earned $11 that day, and told Abigail’s mother, Kara, that they wanted the money to go to the victims of the bombings. That was just the beginning.
Kara says the girls came up with the idea to donate the funds without any input from their parents.
“I know Ainsley’s mom feels the same. We are really proud,” said Kara. “They thought of it all on their own. We were happy about just the $11 and now, it’s amazing.”
The best friends, who are in the fourth grade at Cedar Hill Elementary School, were back at their stand Thursday and Friday.
“Our goal was only $50,” said Ainsley. However, through the power of social media, by Monday afternoon, the pair had raised more than $500 for One Fund Boston.
One Fund Boston is the central fund for financial support for Boston and the victims. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino created the fund after businesses and individuals expressed their desire to help.
“At moments like this, we are one state, one city and one people,” said Governor Patrick in a statement on One Fund Boston’s website.
Both girls have personal connections to the marathon, with a number of family friends participating; thankfully, none of their friends were injured. Ainsley was especially thankful that her soccer coach, Hans Ramsden, was able to cross the finish line 22 minutes before the blast. According to Ainsley’s mother, Michelle Leahy, her coach of four years was the first person Ainsley asked about after hearing about the bombings.
Abigail explained that word spread of their fundraising efforts through her mother’s Facebook.
“My mom posted a picture of us and a lot people asked if they could send us money,” said Abigail.
Kara explained that family friends from as far away as Maryland contributed. Kara, a first grade teacher at Oakland Beach Elementary School, said a large number of teachers from the Warwick area had also come out to support the girls.
Abigail and Ainsley said five teachers from Cedar Hill came to get lemonade and support the cause. They explained that their former second grade teacher, Allison O’Donnell, even made it an event on Facebook to spread the word.
When asked why the two decided to raise money for One Fund, Abigail gave a simple answer. “We just said we should do something.”
“It just shows one act of kindness can lead to something bigger,” said Kara. “To see the looks on their faces last night [Thursday] was so special.”
Kara said that in the days since the Marathon bombings she has been taking the time to make sure her children feel safe and understand that not everyone is bad.
“There are good people out there,” said Kara. “This shows there is more good than bad.”
“[Abigail and Ainsley] are two really great kids, with a great little group of friends. I have been beaming with pride over their efforts to help others in these trying times,” said Michelle in an e-mail to the Beacon.
In addition to raising money for a great cause, the lemonade stand allowed for a fun, springtime activity for the children. Kara explained siblings, cousins and friends took the time to help Abigail and Ainsley with the lemonade stand. At one point on Thursday, 19 kids were playing in the Walsh yard and working at the stand.
While the lemonade stand has closed, Abigail and Ainsley are still receiving donations from friends and families for their cause.