By the time the last glass of lemonade had been poured and the final cookie purchased, Millie Cox and her little lemonade stand had had a day for the ages.
The eight-year-old Valley Home School third grader, buoyed by support from family, friends, the community and plenty of first responders, raised some $1,420 in roughly 90 minutes on Friday. It probably didn’t hurt that temperatures were in the triple digit range … but it’s likely the crowd would have come out no matter what the weather.
Millie’s Lemonade Stand was set up in the Valley Home Community Park on Friday afternoon, Aug. 16 as the youngster raised money for the HONORBANDS organization. The bands are the black bands that are placed on the badges of law enforcement officers to honor a fallen fellow officer.
Millie and her classmate and friend Ashlan McCurley, 9, were busy scooping up ice, filling lemonade glasses, handing out cookies and taking in donations for the cause.
The fundraiser was an idea the youngster had to help bring awareness to the dangers law officers face and the community jumped on board, as did law enforcement. CHP and Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department both shared the fundraiser on social media, the fire department arrived, community residents turned out and several television and newspaper crews were on site as well.
“We’re just taking donations,” Millie said, with no set price for lemonade or cookies.
Whether it was a couple of dollars or a $20 bill donated for a glass of lemonade, all will help support the HONORBANDS program.
“The woman was just so excited,” grandmother Winnie Mullins said of being able to tell the HONORBANDS officials the total raised. The original goal was $200.
Several Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department deputies stopped by for a visit and personally thanked Millie for her support, taking time to pose for photos with both Millie and Ashlan.
For Millie, the reason to host the event was simple: to help remember the sacrifice of those lost in the line of duty.
Her aunt Tena Heaton said the fundraiser brought in way more than anticipated, with the line stretching out toward the end of the park at one time. Many people took their lemonade and cookies to the adjacent covered pavilion to enjoy some visiting while having their refreshments.
Millie’s mother, Melissa Bartholomew, said she was both proud and a bit overwhelmed.
“Our community is super supportive,” Bartholomew said. “She wanted to have a lemonade stand and our family knew of this (HONORBANDS) organization, I told her a bit about it and she and her friend Ashlan wanted to do it for them.”
Another family member that does graphics work prepared the special sign for the lemonade stand, while others in the family helped with the set-up, kept the ice bucket full and did other tasks to assist with the effort.
“Each of us has done our little parts of it,” said Heaton.
Deputy Raj Singh, who had one of the bands on his badge in honor of a fallen Riverside CHP officer, said the outpouring of support meant a lot.
“Little gestures like this mean the world to us,” Singh said. “Our department itself has had several tragedies in the past few years and this cause has meant so much to us.”
CHP Officer Tom Olsen, who attends the MAC meetings in Valley Home, presented Millie with a CHP patch and a commemorative Stanislaus County coin in thanking her for her efforts.