Fresh lemonade. 50 cents a cup.
The hottest days of the year always seem to bring out a spate of local kids holding up these types of signs in hopes they can make a quick buck or two off of parched walkers and generous drivers.
A pair of Ridgefield girls — Ellie Jones and Katie Swiatowicz, ages seven and eight, respectively — did just that on Aug. 13, when they made a fresh batch of lemonade and baked goods at home before setting up a stand outside of Planet Pizza on Main Street.
But instead of pocketing the $250 they earned over the few summer hours, the girls decided they wanted to give it all to one of the animal shelters in town — the Ridgefield Operation for Animal Rescue (ROAR).
“Helping dogs and cats makes me really happy,” said Ellie. “I love animals, and we thought the lemonade and bake sale stand would be a great way to help ROAR.”
Katie had similar thoughts on the day.
“I wanted to be nice and have a nice day with my best friend, and raise money for all of the homeless animals,” she said.
Ellie and Katie’s parents said the girls were inspired to donate the money to ROAR because both families had adopted animals from the shelter on South Street.
Staff members at ROAR, who were present when the girls brought in their lemonade earnings, appreciated the donation.
“ROAR loves the idea of kids getting involved in animal welfare in their community,” Steph Pagano told The Press last week. “We welcome any and all donations. We continue to be impressed by their concern for others in need, and we hope they continue that trait as they grow older.”
Pagano’s co-worker, Doreen Zurlo, said she the girls were “bringing a voice to those who can’t speak for themselves.”
ROAR opened in 2005.
In addition to serving as a shelter, the organization also runs outreach programs to local schools, and a therapy dog program aimed at senior-living facilities. The organization’s website says that since its opening ROAR has “placed almost 4,500 neglected and unwanted cats and dogs in caring homes throughout Ridgefield and our surrounding towns.”
“I’m so proud of these girls!” Maureen Jones, Ellie’s mom, posted on Facebook.
“They’ve been dreaming of doing a lemonade sale since the beginning of the summer, but instead of keeping the money for themselves, they elected to give 100% of the proceeds to ROAR … They’ve worked so hard and did ALL the work!”
Community of helpers
Mike Drogalis, the general manager at Planet Pizza, said that he was happy to let the girls set up their space out front of the eatery.
“We’re all about helping out the community and, if anyone else wants to give as well, we’re more than happy to share the space outside.”
“The support — for not just the shelter, but for our girls’ business venture — was amazing,” Jones told The Press.
She emphasized that it was the community that made the girls’ charity possible in the first place.
“It can only lead to greater things,” she said.
“Who knows,” she said, “next year may be pizza.”