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  • Ashley Love

Lake Forest Children Sell Lemonade to Raise Funds for Maui

By Ashley Love

Children’s lemonade stands are a staple of Lake Forest summers, but one family embraced a unique approach to the idea recently. Melanie Uteg’s family turned its lemonade stand into a fundraiser to help the victims of the wildfires that devastated Lahaina, Hawaii. The Hawaiian-themed stand offered lemonade, limeade, and Hibiscus-flavored sparkling water.

Lake Forest policemen, firemen and others dropped by the Utegs' lemonade stand to support victims of the Maui wildfires.

Uteg joined her 6-year-old daughter Grace, 4-year-old son Johnny, 9-year-old niece Maeve and 4-year-old nephew William to set up a QR code so customers could donate directly to Hawaii Community Foundation, Maui Strong Fund. Within two hours, the kids raised $244. “We had some neighbors that stopped by and bought lemonade, but when they found out the money was going to Maui, they returned with even more money to donate,” Uteg said.

Their lemonade stand was right near the Lake Forest Fire Department, so firefighters came out to buy lemonade and give the kids fire hats, frisbees and bags. When they realized the funds were being raised for Maui wildfires, they were instantly touched.

The kids loved having the Lake Forest Fire Department, the Lake Forest Police Department and all their neighbors and friends stop by the lemonade stand. Both the Lake Forest Fire Department and Lake Forest Police Department had posted the picture on their Facebook pages and, shortly after, Fox 32 News contacted them to run a story about the local effort to raise money for Maui.

“Of course, the news segment was fun for the kids, but my hope is that it inspires many other kids to take action,” said Uteg, a former teacher. “I know kids have the innate desire to help. Sometimes it takes adults to facilitate a bit and get the ball rolling. I hope to see many more #MauiStrong lemonade stands this September and beyond.”

As of late August, more than $67,000 had been donated to the Maui Strong Fund from across the world. “Even after our lemonade stand closed, we had friends reach out and say they also wanted to donate,” Uteg said. She is hopeful that as we head into fall, more Lake Forest kids will hold some apple-cider-stand fundraisers for Maui, as the death toll continues to rise and there are still loved ones who remain unaccounted for.


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