On March 2nd, kids will sell 4 different kinds of lemonade from 4 different stands—the colors of which represent the four different teams to which they belong: teams purple, red, yellow, and orange—that the children have helped design and build. Proceeds from lemonade sales go toward Camp Make & Believe programs that help to promote well-being for children living with illness and to provide them with “an identity beyond their illness.”
HP: How did you come up with the idea for camp make & believe?
Courtney Collins: In early 2013, Little Junebugs starting receive requests to participate in fundraisers for a few different non-profit organizations for children’s illnesses, like pediatric cancers and juvenile arthritis. At the time, Little Junebugs was still new and I was working really hard and feeling a bit down with all the work we had to do, just being a year old. I began designing crafts for a few of these fundraising events and then actually got to meet some children living with cancer that were at one of the events. The way that they responded to the crafting totally changed my world.
For the short amount of time that these children were at my table, they were completely engrossed in the project, smiling, and happy. That very same day, in February of 2013, I signed little junebugs up for a partnership with the non-profit organization, CoachArt. CoachArt’s mission is to improve the lives of children living with chronic illness, and their siblings. That very next month, we hosted 20 CoachArt children for a program now called camp make & believe. Little Junebugs hosted a camp every month of last year, in addition to participating in a few other events supporting the same cause.
HP: What was the impetus for starting it now?
CC: While it is awesome for a small business to donate time and resources to great causes like this, there is only so much we could do without breaking our business to do it. As it was, dedicating that much time and supplies to a monthly program was tough, but we began to want to do even more. I spent the end of the summer really thinking of how I could continue to give back (and continue to inspire myself with all of this rewarding work) and not bankrupt my for-profit business. So, I asked for help from two women who had experience in law and non-profit work. By November, I had co-founded a non-profit organization and in December, those women became my Board President and Vice President. In January, we announced make & believe as Little Junebugs’ non-profit partner. There are different teams behind each entity, with myself as an exception, but it is an incredible partnership.
HP: What mediums of art do you use with the children living with illness? Have you noticed that the children respond to any one medium in particular or does it depend on the individual? For example, does clay-making or collage seem to be more of an active activity (actively using ones hands) that empowers them or is uplifting in contrast to painting or something else?
CC: In our Camp Make & Believe program, we use ALL kinds of mediums. We start with a project idea and let the kids, led by our make & believe mentors, decide how they want to make that project happen. Some children do not like to get their hands dirty, so they do more drawings and paper crafting. Others really love to paint and build. We want each child to be completely comfortable and love what they are doing, so we offer all kinds of materials to work with. Camp Make & Believe also sorts the children into teams where we think they will be with mentors and other children that they will thrive with. It’s like a team sport- with art. I personally mentor six boys who definitely love to get messy (the orange paint stains on the floor in our studio is proof!)
HP: Are the workshops or classes open to all kids, healthy and otherwise or primarily for those unwell?
CC: Currently, we offer free workshops for children fighting an illness. but we will soon be hosting more events, like our upcoming lemonade sale, where all children can participate, to spread awareness in the community.
HP: Are these kids who are unwell from the general populace who are coming because the word is getting out or are you connected with a healthcare facility?
At this time, we are servicing families registered with CoachArt.org, but will be working soon with local hospitals as well.
HP: What sort of chronic illnesses are these children fighting or living with?
CC: Chronic asthma, juvenile arthritis, cystic fibrosis, brain tumors, congenital defects, pediatric cancers, and many others.
HP: What will the proceeds go towards?
CC: All proceeds from our lemonade sale will benefit this year’s Camp Make & Believe programs. In 2013, we hosted 16-25 children for three months at a time, culminating in an art show. We did puppet shows, plays, even life-sized comicbooks. In April, we plan to start working on games, paper mache animals, and other circus/carnival-themed projects for the Make & Believe carnival we plan to host in late July!
HP: Why lemonade stands?
CC: I chose lemonade stands for two reasons:
- Children are always fascinated with playing “store” or starting their own little business. I certainly was, and I grew up to own Little Junebugs. I thought it would be fun for the children to build their own mini-business for three months and then get to show it off!
- I wanted to let the community see just what we are doing. On March 2, people will get to meet the CoachArt/Make & Believe kids and get an up-close look at their work. Our neighbors are really supportive of our endeavors and many of them have sponsored a team. Red, White and Bluezz has sponsored our Red “Fancy” Lemonade stand!
Lemonade Stand Sale for Camp Make & Believe
Sunday, March 2nd, 2-4 p.m.
El Molino Ave., between Colorado & Green, Pasadena
Lemonade: $1 a glass
Free crafts will be at Little Junebugs, as well as face painting
For more info, visit WeMakeandBelieve.org and
People wishing to sponsor or donate may visit www.wemakeandbelieve.org/donate.
All photography, except where mentioned, by Tanya Alexis at OriginalKidsbyTA.