Zoie Ewald of Gig Harbor began raising money for Food Backpacks 4 Kids at a very early age.
The idea arose after the 6-year-old presented her Christmas wish list to her parents, Tony and Erin Ewald. The list was fine, but her mother suggested that maybe it was time to consider sharing with others. Zoie sorted through a variety of ways she could give back to the community and after some consideration decided that the best way would be through Food Backpacks 4 Kids (FB4K).
She explained her reasoning, “When I am participating in sports or in school and I’m hungry, it is harder to concentrate on school or sports instead of thinking about being hungry. And Food Backpacks 4 Kids provides food and snacks for kids so they can focus on school or sports instead of being hungry.”
When asked about the colorful lemonade stand standing at the end of their driveway, Zoie and her dad described making the stand as a dad and daughter project. Zoie summarized the effort, saying “I helped build it. We built it from scratch, no plans. He did all the cutting and screwing because I was only six. But I did most of the painting.”
When her mom chimed in with a remark about how much she had grown since that first year, Zoie held up fingers to demonstrate, “I only have that much room before I hit the top. When I started I could barely see over the counter.”
Zoie’s lemonade stand usually earns between $500 and $700 a year, and she has donated a little over $4,500.00 to FB4K since she started. “During Covid I just gave them cash, but one year we bought granola bars and crockpots to give out,” she said.
When asked how much she had raised for FB4K this summer, Zoie said without hesitation, “$1,001.79. I’ve had this number memorized for a while.
“Any kid can do it,” she said. “I brought other kids over. Two of them were sisters who said they wanted to do a lemonade stand or help out with food backpacks.
“Noticing that I am so tall, one of them looked over the stand and said, ‘We could use this.’ ”
But Zoie is not yet ready to give it up. “A lot of people from our road stop by, and people come from all over the community when my mom puts it on Facebook. A lot of people just stop by just to give a donation.”
Michelle Johnson, director of communication at FB4K, said Zoie is impressive because of her enthusiasm and the empathy she has for other kids.
Since the COVID-19 school lunch program ended, families have to requalify for the free and reduced lunch and are turning to FB4K to meet interim needs. FB4K is currently serving over 400 families.
Johnson and Zoie are both looking forward to the day when Zoie can drive and volunteer on site at FB4K in Key Center.
“I plan to continue with lemonade, but in the fall and winter I am considering having hot chocolate and hot cider, but the stand looks so summery,” Zoie said. Both parents suggested adding a few skeletons and cobwebs to make the stand look suitable for fall festivities.
FB4K is located at 9127 124th Avenue Court NW in Key Center. For more information go to foodbackpacks4kids.org.
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