BURRILLVILLE – In 2010, 4-year-old Ben St. Pierre raised $75 at his grandparents’ yard sale, and decided to donate the money to a local animal shelter.
No one could have known at the time, but the small gesture would prove life-changing, growing into a massive annual event that unites a community and raises thousands for animals in need.
Ben’s Annual Lemonade Stand took place on Saturday, August 20, featuring a record 45 raffle prizes, baked treats for both humans and their four-legged companions, and enough community spirit to keep locals refreshed until next summer.
Now in its 13th year, the event brings hundreds of visitors to the family’s home on Maureen Circle, raising funds to provide critical medical care to residents at the Burrillville Animal Shelter.
And in 2022, before St. Pierre poured a single cup of the cold summer treat, he’d already raised $645 for the cause, thanks to advance donations.
Dozens of local businesses and residents also donated raffle prizes, and this year’s raffle featured gift certificates and baskets galore, along with handmade items, movie passes, an Adirondack chair, artwork and more.
And unlike the early days, when a young St. Pierre sat behind a homemade stand doling out cups at 50 cents apiece, many will volunteers helped the now 16-year-old to make the event a success.
“There are so many helpers, from neighbors who lend their tables and pop up tents, to Ben’s long time friends who have been coming and hanging out with him to help him pour lemonade for the last 13 years,” said Ben’s mother, Kristine St Pierre. “We have a local company (that) donates recyclable cups, and grandmothers and aunts who help Ben label and bag the cookies. His siblings set up activity tables that day to help bring in donations. His grandfather has become the official raffle ticket seller….”
Last year, local Jeep enthusiasts even surprised the family, showing up with a long convoy.
St. Pierre chose various animal-related causes in the first few years, but the Burrillville Animal Shelter has been his focus since 2017, with funds going directly to veterinary care for animals. Prior to Saturday’s event, he’d donated $17,430 to the facility, according to Animal Control Officer Kerry Courtemanche.
“We’ve come to rely on this event and greatly look forward to it,” said Courtemanche. “Ben and his family are very kind people and the good folks of Burrillville and communities beyond show great support for the event. Individuals and businesses generously contribute to the raffles that have become a big draw.”
On Sunday, August 21, the family announced that the 2022 event raised $6,422.
The funding, Courtemanche said, is desperately needed, and has proven life-saving for several animals in the facility’s care.
“Each year, it seems that more of the animals we take in are in poor condition and in need of extensive medical care,” she said.
In 2018, the funds came in just before two hoarding cases resulted in 36 cats arriving at the shelter’s doorstep. This year, Courtemanche noted that one of the dogs at the shelter is scheduled for upcoming dental and eye surgery, and some of the funding will be dedicated to the work.
“With the increase of private rescues throughout the state, individual donations decrease as donors spread their generosity to include other groups,” Courtemanche said.
Courtemanche noted that this summer, the dedicated teen has also volunteered time at the shelter once a week.
The family home-bakes dog treats for the event, and in addition to ice-cold lemonade, guests on Saturday enjoyed chocolate chip and lemon cookies fit for human consumption. A dog and cat food donation box was set up for Village Paw’s Kibble Closet and visitors were invited to bring cans or bags to drop off.
Many visitors bring along their pets, and this year, a new, “Puppy Picasso booth,” offered a creative activity for the dogs.
“Every year, Ben and his crew like to come up with something new and different to add to the day’s festivities,” Kristine noted on a social media page for the event. “Watch your pup create his or her very own masterpiece.”
Organizers offered a blank canvas and pet-owners were invited to pick the colors to be added to a Ziploc bag, with natural peanut butter covering the outside.
The lemonade, along with the community fun began flowing at 11 a.m. on Maureen Circle and continued until 4 p.m.
Those who were unable to attend who would like to donate in honor of the event can do so via PayPal using firstname.lastname@example.org or mail a check, to Ben at 90 Maureen Circle, Mapleville RI 02839, with checks payable to Burrillville Animal Control.
Kristine noted that on Friday, August 19, Ben and his efforts were also featured on WJAR Channel 10.
“The fact that Ben continues to do this event now that he is 16 speaks to his dedication and good parenting,” said Courtemanche. “We are truly grateful to everyone involved.”
Editor’s note: The above article was updated following Saturday’s event.