DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A 9-year-old boy, upset after learning about his city’s cash-strapped financial troubles, will be selling lemonade this week in front of his home to try to help improve Detroit.
Joshua Smith said he heard a radio report about the city’s money problems while en route to his piano lessons and decided to take action. The city’s budget deficit exceeds $200 million, and Detroit this year entered into an agreement with the state that’s aimed at fixing the city’s finances.
“I heard the city was in crisis because the city is broke and I was really upset,” Joshua told the Detroit Free Press.
The sale began Monday and runs every evening through Friday at his family’s home at 4252 Leslie, in the Russell Woods neighborhood. He’s also selling fruit punch, water and popcorn.
Joshua’s parents, Flynn and Rhonda Smith, said that when he first told them about his lemonade plan they were impressed. Rhonda Smith said Joshua always has been “a conscientious child about what’s going on around him” and they want to encourage him. They’ve invested nearly $100 to help supply the stand.
“I’m really proud of him; he wasn’t asking how can he make money to buy himself something,” Flynn Smith said.
Rhonda Smith publicized the lemonade stand on Facebook and helped Joshua distribute flyers. His parents also helped him pop the corn that he and a friend, 10-year-old Dwayne Durant of Redford Township, packaged for sale. Joshua wants to raise $1,000 or more, if possible.
The flyer for the stand says: “May you please help the City of Detroit. Please buy this popcorn and drinks. It’s not so expensive. I didn’t make it expensive so you would have to spend all your money. The money will help clean up trash on the ground and cut the grass in the parks.”
On Monday, Joshua’s first customer was next door neighbor, 60-year-old Robert Rucker.
“The city really needs all the help it can get, so I wanted to help out,” Rucker said. “Somebody needs to try something; the adults too.”
Rhonda Smith said she hopes Joshua can donate the money with the assurance that it will go to the recreation department to cut grass or improve the parks.
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