WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS …
An inspirational California girl raises $20,000 — selling lemonade! — to aid those in need
Meet 12-year-old Jaelyn Sagen, who has made $20,000 with a lemonade stand — and used it all to help the homeless
The idea came to her when she was just 6. Jaelyn “J.J.” Sagen saw a homeless man on the sidewalk and immediately knew she had to do something. “It bugged her,” says Jaelyn’s mom, Janelle. “She started asking me all kinds of questions about why he doesn’t have a home and where he goes at night.”
Soon enough, she was turning lemons into lemonade — literally and figuratively. Jaelyn started J.J.’S Lemonade Stand, which has raised more than $20,000 in the past six years to help the homeless. The charity made $350 in its first year and a whopping $10,000 in 2016, with the proceeds going to We Care, a homelessness prevention program in Jaelyn’s hometown of Los Alamitos, Calif. “It is hard work,” Jaelyn, now 12, tells In Touch. “But
when I see what I’ve accomplished, it makes it all worthwhile.”
Jaelyn expanded her lemonade stand into a multipronged fundraising operation. Initially, J.J.’S Lemonade Stand sold lemonade and cookies in front of her home. This past Aug. 5, Ganahl Lumber in Los Alamitos invited her to set up outside their business, attracting more foot traffic, including the chief of police and the mayor. She also uses social media now, including a
Gofundme page (Gofundme.com/Jjslemonadestand) which has raised $6,200 so far. (Her goal is $10,000.) “For a girl this age to step up and make a difference is just amazing,” Rob Lowenberg, program director of We Care, tells In Touch.
Jaelyn simply isn’t your average sixth-grader. “When I saw that homeless man,” she reflects, “I thought it wasn’t fair, because I have such a nice home and a fortunate life.” Charity isn’t her whole life, of course. Jaelyn is also a straight-a student and a competitive dancer. But the lemonade stand is her passion, and she hopes to run her own nonprofit organization someday. “I’m convinced that Jaelyn received a gift — a divine message that was put into the head of a 6-year-old girl,” her real estate broker mom says with pride. “She has a really special heart.”
That heart has inspired countless other kids to follow her lead and make a difference. Kid-run bake sales are popping up around Los Alamitos. One boy even emptied out his piggy bank and donated the money to Jaelyn with a note that read, “Thank you for inspiring me.”
It’s been a remarkable six years for young Jaelyn. But this is only the beginning. “It makes me feel really good inside,” she says. “I want to keep this going for as long as I can.”
DONATING HER PROFITS “It makes me feel good inside,” says Jaelyn (with Rob Lowenberg, program director of local charity We Care).
MAKING THE NEWS Jaelyn’s latest lemonade stand sale was covered by local media — and during the segment she got to meet some of the homeless people she’s helped. “I feel blessed,” she tells In Touch.