BURRILLVILLE – Ben St. Pierre was just four-years-old when he opened his first lemonade stand.
The Mapleville boy was at his grandparents’ home in Woonsocket while they were holding a yard sale, and he made $75, donating the money to the Woonsocket Animal Shelter.
St. Pierre enjoyed the experience so much that his parents did it again the following year, selling lemonade and baked goods from their home on Maureen Circle, and bringing in $180 for the Humane Association of Northwestern Rhode Island.
By 2017, Ben’s Lemonade Stand, and the young boy’s dedication to helping animals, had drawn a lot of attention. Local businesses had begun donating raffle items for the event and the St. Pierres added in activities like penny candy to draw in visitors, promoting the event on social media. The Woonsocket Rotary Club, a contributor to the annual charity, made Ben an honorary member in recognition of his work.
The 2017 event raised $1,670 for the Burrillville Animal Shelter. The Burrillville Police Department recognized his outstanding generosity and community service to the town of Burrillville at the “Heroes in Our Community Celebration.”
And St. Pierre, now 12, hopes to beat that record with this year’s lemonade stand, which will take place Saturday, August 11.
“I always loved animals my whole life,” Ben told NRI NOW this week. “I think people started donating a lot of money because it was for the animals.”
Ben and his family are on track to beat their goal, with more than 20 raffle items already secure. The lemonade stand will feature 50 cent baked goods, homemade dog cookies and raffle tickets for baskets, gift cards and more, sold for $1 a piece.
“Burrillville is an awesome town,” said Ben’s mother, Kristine St Pierre. “People are so generous. I just love the fact that there’s a lot of small, local businesses.”
Those businesses include Harrisville-based Creative Photography, donating a family portrait, and Mapleville Farms, contributing a gift basket. Anytime Fitness donated $100 gift card plus swag from the Broncos Highway gym, Tobin-Style Boot Camp donated a basket, and the business Total Asset Solutions donated a gift card and basket. A friend of Kristine’s also volunteered to offer face-painting throughout day.
“It’s just getting bigger and bigger every year,” Kristine said. “We’re going to need a lot of tables.”
All totaled, the family has raised some $4,600 for local animal-related charities since Ben’s first lemonade stand, and they show no signs of slowing down. Ben makes signs and flyers promoting the stand every year and helps with the baking and set up, making the stand a week-long project.
“Me and my friend Max go around the circle and put a flyer in everyone’s mailbox,” he said.
Friends in their circular neighborhood, they say, have been incredibly generous.
“This has grown so much over the years,” said Kristine. “He has received such a huge outpouring over support from our community and surrounding towns.”
Ben’s Lemonade Stand will take place on Saturday, August 11 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 90 Maureen Circle, Mapleville. You can follow Ben’s progress on his Facebook page, and those who cannot attend the event but would like to donate are advised to contact the family through the site. You can also make out a check to Burrillville Animal Shelter and mail it to their Maureen Circle address.
Raffle winners will be picked at random by animal shelter staff when the family drops off the donations.
To show thanks every year, the young philanthropist posts a sign at the entrance to the neighborhood with the total amount raised.
Kristine said she’s hopeful her son will reach his goal of beating last year’s total.
“This year, he has really big shoes to fill,” she said.