Community pitches in to replace St. Paul Park girl's stolen lemonade stand
When a sour thief stole 8-year-old Akirah Nyberg’s lemonade stand from the front lawn of her St. Paul Park home Tuesday night, she decided to turn the entrepreneurial pitfall into a teachable moment.
“You know, if they wanted to borrow it, all they had to do was ask,” she said. “Because if they had asked, I would’ve probably said yes and shared it.”
The lemonade stand, built in the likeness of the booth depicted in a Peanuts episode, has been open nearly every day this summer. Akirah and her stepfather, Terry Sawyer, constructed the miniature business out of recycled pallets about a month ago.
“It was the first project they ever did together,” Akirah’s mother, Tabitha Nyberg-Revoir said.
But it was shuttered earlier this week after it was stolen. Akirah said her mother was down the block at a relative’s home Tuesday night, but when she returned, the lemonade stand was gone. Fortunately, no money was in the stand.
“I was just like, well my eye was twitchy and I was mad and sad all at the same time,” Akirah said. “It was the first thing I’ve ever built. Why would someone want to take it?”
Nyberg-Revoir said she was furious and drove around the neighborhood for over an hour in search of the stand. She questioned why someone would want to take a lemonade stand from “the sweetest, nicest little girl in the world.”
This same question perplexed Jim Huffman and Fred Anderson of the local chapter of the Minnesota Fraternal Order of Police. Huffman said he heard Akirah’s story and brought it to the chapter’s Wednesday meeting, pitching the idea to help Akirah bring back her lemonade stand.
“When something happens to the little kids, it hits everybody’s heartstrings,” Huffman, a former longtime Newport police officer, said.
Friday morning Anderson and Huffman surprised the kid entrepreneur with a new table, sugar, lemonade mix, cookies and doughnuts, cups, napkins and all the makings of a lemonade stand.
“This is just our way of supporting the community,” Huffman said.
Akirah’s friends and family have also pitched in to help, and a new lemonade stand, complete with wheels and a cash register, is expected to be delivered to their home Friday.
“I’m just over emotional, and I’m wearing a lot of waterproof mascara,” Nyberg-Revoir laughed. “There has been so many people that have come forward to help out. She’s just been a champ through this whole thing.”
Akirah and her next door neighbor, Zach Olson, 6, run the lemonade stand together. Olson has autism but Nyberg-Revoir said interacting with Akirah has helped him progress and be more social.
“He responds really well to Akirah and to us,” she said. “And Akirah is so good with him. She’s patient, she doesn’t judge. They are real cool little buddies, and they’re excited to get back to selling lemonade.”
And by Friday afternoon, with a little help from family, friends and the local Fraternal Order of the Police, Akirah was back in the lemonade business.
“We should cut up the lemons and put it on the cups and make them pretty when we reopen,” Akirah told her mother. “Look how much lemonade we can sell.”