This I Believe

Austin - Warwick, Rhode Island
Entered on June 26, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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Making a Difference – One Smile at a Time

I believe in stopping at kids’ lemonade stands. Selling lemonade is a fairly large effort for children. They must make the signs, make the lemonade, and stand for hours (with no chairs) in the hot summer sun to sell a seventy-five cent cup of lemonade. When I was ten years old, that is exactly what my younger brother and I did. We liked the idea of making money, however nominal it would be, and, for us, selling lemonade was a part of childhood that we couldn’t miss out on.

Some cars would pull over to the corner and ask for a cup of lemonade. We filled it to the brim and graciously handed it over to our customer in exchange for their money (which was often more than seventy-five cents). Drivers would occasionally get out of their cars to come over and compliment us on our enthusiasm and determination – some people generously tipped us and didn’t take the lemonade!

For every car that stopped for lemonade, there were many more that drove past without even glancing at us. I didn’t think much of it then, but now I wonder how people can drive by without even acknowledging children with at least a wave or beep of the horn with a smile? Are they too busy even to do that?

Stopping to buy some lemonade from children requires very little effort and seems like a little thing. When people did pull over, they really made my day. Did they realize what their small act of buying lemonade did for me? I think so, because I could see my wide grin reflected back at me with their smiles.

There are little things people can do everyday to make others happy, which ultimately makes themselves happy. I try to do these small things because, like people stopping to buy lemonade for me, I know it makes people happier. I try to hold the door open for people, even if it means waiting for a short time – I’m not in a hurry. When someone else does something for me, the least I can do for them is say “thank you.” I make it a point to send thank you notes because I know, however brief they may be, they will make a difference in someone else’s life.

I was recently in New York City and while observing the many pedestrians make their way down the sidewalk, I noticed one thing that they all had in common: Nobody was smiling. Every person that I could see sported an expressionless face. I smiled at people when I made eye contact. Some even smiled back.

I hope and believe that my small deeds of kindness will inspire others as others have inspired me. As I grow older, I will make it a point to stop at kids’ lemonade stands. I will continue to smile at people in an attempt to make their day a little better and show that small things can and do make a difference.